UNION COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) - Parents who showed up to a public school board meeting in Union County to voice concerns for their students, most with special needs, were escorted out by deputies on Thursday night.
"This is so ridiculous," one parent shouted as he was escorted out.
Two-separate parents were escorted out of the meeting at Union Day Charter School by Union County Sheriff's deputies after trying to sound off to the board. App users click here for embed content.
Many do not feel their children are receiving a proper education from a school with, what they call, a high-turnover rate of teachers and staff. Some parents also had safety concerns about the school.
Board chairman Erin Kirkpatrick told parents they are only allowed to speak about what is on the agenda during public comment -- and Thursday's agenda was limited.
"We're not able to get on the agenda and that's the problem," one parent said. "We're being censored and restricted on many of the requests for meetings."
Board Chair Kirkpatrick called authorities and said, while the meeting was public, it is a private building and the board had the right to kick parents out.
Kirkpatrick declined to interview with FOX 46 Charlotte.
Charter schools, like Union Day, receive taxpayer dollars. Parents believe they have paid the right to have their voices heard.
FOX 46 Charlotte reached out the University of North Carolina School of Government. It told FOX 46 that charter schools do not have to operate under the exact same meetings guidelines as traditional public schools and that it was legal for the board to not allow parents to speak on items that were not a part of the agenda.
That being said, the board would not allow parents to record the meeting and that's illegal, according to NC law.
North Carolina State Statute 143-318.14 (a) reads, "Any person may photograph, film, tape-record, or otherwise reproduce any part of a meeting required to be open."
Still, Union Day prohibits recording at meeting.
"The Board will record its meetings as deemed necessary," Union Day said on its website. "Therefore, the Board, at its sole discretion, may record meetings. Anyone wishing to video or record meetings may request prior written approval from the Board Chair, who presides over the meeting as parliamentarian. The parliamentarian has the authority to conduct the meeting and to maintain point of order. Otherwise, recordings of any kind are prohibited to protect the sanctity and productivity of the meeting. Anyone violating this policy will be removed from the meeting and the school property immediately."
The School of Government believes this is illegal.
"I agree that the requirements about recording do not square with the right to record under the statute," a spokesperson said. "I don’t see the basis for requiring approval since the statute allows it. There is no criminal sanction, but the statute allows a person file a civil lawsuit with a range of possible sanctions. See GS 143-318.16 through .16B. Individuals can be personally liable for attorneys’ fees if they acted against the advice of their attorney."
The Union Day Board of Directors released the following response to FOX 46 Charlotte:
The Union Day School Board of Directors has established policies and procedures in place that allows parents to communicate openly with the board at any time. The board is always available via the email address on our website, and many board members have personally contacted parents to follow up on emails. The board also has a published grievance policy that allows any parent to bring a concern to the board once they have taken the concern to the school level. This policy is outlined within the parent-student handbook that is always available online.
At no time were parents who addressed the board on Jan. 24 ignored by the board; additionally, none of the parents who spoke on Jan. 24 followed the published grievance policy.
It is board policy that public comments address items on the published agenda. This policy is also published on our website and read during board meeting. Many times, board members have spoken to parents, in detail, after meetings so as not to hold up the items needing action on the agenda.
The Union Day Board values the parent-school relationship and will continue to openly communicate with our parents and community.