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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

NHC school board could censure member Judy Justice for allegedly disclosing personnel information

NHCS Board Member Judy Justice at the January 4th, 2022 meeting.
NHCS YouTube
NHCS Board Member Judy Justice at the January 4th, 2022 meeting.

At the Tuesday, January 4th, 2022, New Hanover County School Board meeting, members voted to consider a censure for member Judy Justice for allegedly disclosing confidential personnel information.

The board pledged to start the new year with a collaborative and respectful spirit. But that reset quickly stalled when newly elected Board Chair Stephanie Kraybill revealed that the board’s integrity had been called into question through the alleged actions of Judy Justice.

The only information Kraybill shared was that Justice allegedly gave personnel information to individuals who were not entitled to receive it.

With Justice and Stephanie Walker dissenting, the board voted 5 to 2 to consider action against Justice. The board will consider censuring her at an upcoming public hearing — which will be conducted in an open session, a decision Justice didn’t understand:

“To come out in public without being able to present information that is very relevant to the situation does not make any sense. That’s very one-sided, and that has to do with my rights also,” said Justice.

But board attorney Colin Shive of Tharrington Smith had a response to Justice:

“Open meetings law specifically states it is impermissible for the board to discuss the performance of a board member in closed session,” said Shive.

Shive added that if Justice wanted to discuss the content of the accusation, she would have to do it in a closed session.

It's not the first time Justice has clashed with fellow board members — and in June of this year, a split-vote upheld a "no-confidence" motion against her. The motion was brought by then-Chair Stefanie Adams, who accused Justice of disclosing confidential matters with the public, making false allegations against superintendent Dr. Charles Foust, and bringing forth motions without discussing them with other board members.

Related: New Hanover school board members trade accusations, 'no-confidence' and 'censure' motions in heated meeting

Justice voted against the motion along with Walker and Pete Wildeboer. The motion was functionally toothless — the board's own policy does not define what a 'no-confidence' motion entails — but the board attorney confirmed it was a legitimate outlet for the board to express its disapproval of a board member. Justice's counter-motion to censure Adams failed 5-2, supported only by Walker.

The hearing will take place on January 14th at 3:00 p.m. If Justice is censured she could be removed from committees but not from her elected seat on the school board.

Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR