CCCC trustee lawsuit date likely postponed

Court temporarily reinstates members
Aug. 06, 2013 @ 04:58 AM

The four trustees of Central Carolina Community College who sued the college and the state last Tuesday might have to wait a little while longer for their day in court.

The trustees — Chet Mann, Tony Lett, Jan Hayes and Norman “Chip” Post Jr. — filed a civil suit after a recent law removed them from the board. But they won a slight reprieve last week, having been granted a temporary restraining order from being booted from the 16-member board of trustees, and the state is now reportedly seeking more time to prepare.

The suit was originally scheduled to be heard in Superior Court in Lee County at 2 p.m. Thursday. But local attorney Jon Silverman, who is representing the trustees, said the N.C. Attorney General’s office has requested to put off the hearing by another week. Silverman met with Superior Court Judge Winston Gilchrist on Monday to discuss the change but said afterward that nothing is final regarding the new hearing date.

With the temporary order in place, the college’s board of trustees is now in compliance with state law, which mandates that it have no fewer than 13 members at all times. The board would have been down to 12 if the four plaintiffs had been removed; none of their terms had expired by Aug. 1, when the Lee County-only law originally filed by Rep. Mike Stone would’ve relieved them of their positions, and no one has yet been appointed to replace them under the new system the bill created.

Stone told The Herald on Wednesday that he and his fellow legislators followed the necessary guidelines in drafting the bill and that it ought to stand up in court. He also said changing the way part of the board is appointed — which was the primary intent of the bill, and the removal of the four trustees was a side effect of that change — will benefit the college and the community it serves.

Silverman has said the bill was politically motivated, as well as unconstitutional, and the complaint describes it as “arbitrary and capricious.”