By Richard Sullins | email@example.com
With only days remaining before the May primary, Republican Lee County Board of Education candidate Kenna Wilson has filed a public records request for all email records pertaining to Patrick Kelly, a sitting Democratic board member who is not up for election this year.
Wilson’s expansive request includes “historical emails and/or other electronic communications generated since he became a seated board member. I also asked for any emails and other electronic communications generated prior to his election to the school board, including those generated when Mr. Kelly was working on the Lee County High School campus as a College and Career Promise Counselor. This would include the time he was campaigning,” she said in a statement to The Rant.
Wilson’s request could potentially include thousands of emails that were either sent or received by Kelly, as well as others that mentioned him. She said while she understands her request is broad, she is looking for patterns that will point to what she thinks are hidden problems in the school system, and said she believes Kelly could be at the center of them.
“As a candidate, I believe the patterns found in the governance, performance data, and operations tell a bigger story about Lee County Schools. The big picture in Lee County Schools has often been obscured by public relation efforts focused on convincing the community ‘all is well’ when the patterns over time tell us all is not well for all students,” she said.
Four Republicans are running in the May 17 primary for three spots on the November ballot.
Kelly will not be up for election again until 2024. He was first elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020.
Although she was vague about what she hopes to find in the emails, Wilson was candid about her reasons for seeking them.
“Patrick Kelly is not up for re-election but based on my own experiences with Mr. Kelly during my role as a principal for Lee County Schools, I know the division he brings to the school board,” she said. “Parents, educators, and community members are done with the division. As a candidate who hopes to bring honesty and openness to the board if elected, I want to do as much research as I can regarding current issues related to this board.”
This is not Wilson’s first public records request with Lee County Schools. She acknowledged that she had previously filed another relating to initiatives, spending, and budget matters.
Wilson said she understands it may take some time to comply with her request. With the potential for thousands of email records to be involved, each of those records will have to be identified by information technology staff at the Lee County Schools district office. Once identified, each will then have to be reviewed for content to ensure that it can be released under provisions of the North Carolina Public Records Act (Chapter 132 of the General Statutes). Wilson said she’s willing to pay for costs associated with the search “if the cost of copies becomes burdensome.”
There are no separate regulations for how long an email is required to be retained by public agencies. As with paper records, the rules about what has to be preserved, and for how long, depend on what is contained within the record. In some cases, emails do not have to be preserved at all, such as broad announcements to all staff or those coming from listservs. Some state records, though, must be preserved for 10 years or more, again depending on their content.
In some cases where emails created by board members or employees of Lee County Schools concern personnel issues or individual students, it would be necessary for them to be reviewed by the school board’s attorney, Stephen Rawson of the Raleigh firm Tharrington Smith. If so, Mr. Rawson’s rate for work done on behalf of the board is $235 per hour.
Wilson believes her request for Kelly’s emails is a first step in restoring trust in the school board.
“He is exactly the board member who one would expect to provide a window into the issues plaguing the functioning of our school board. Knowing how Mr. Kelly, other board members, and our superintendent have addressed several issues over the years is important,” she said. “Trust in our board is gone for many. The only way to regain trust is to ask some tough questions and for district leadership to be willing to answer those questions. I believe the information I am requesting will provide insight into the governance of the school board.”
Kelly faced a separate move against him by a different Republican candidate in recent weeks. Alan Rummel, who is also vying for one of the four spots on the November ballot, initiated an ethics complaint asking for an investigation into Kelly over a heated exchange between the two during a committee meeting of the board. That request failed to get the votes necessary to move forward.
For his part, Kelly said he intends to continue his work as a board member.
“As I always have been, I remain focused on how Lee County Schools can best meet the needs of students and parents and provide opportunities for teachers and staff,” he said. “Important issues face the school board. I will continue to encourage a cooperative spirit, undistracted by partisan attacks so that we can build on Lee County Schools’ great successes together.”
Early voting for the primary ended on Saturday. Election Day is Tuesday.
Requesting thousands of emails that will not be ready for release before the primary or general election is a lame tactic. In addition, does anyone know how many staff would be involved with pulling, reviewing, and redacting such information? Does anyone know the costs of labor involved and possible legal costs of this information? If she believes that political dynamite may exist among these emails, along with her personal work history with Kelly, then produce witnesses that are willing to publicly affirm whatever may exist. This tactic represents another taxpayer-funded safari that will lead to nothing of substance. Look at the past two internal investigations initiated by the Board of Education, which amounted to nothing but a monetary cost the taxpayers of Lee County over $14,000, according to the bills submitted to the Board by the Sanford Herald.
Is the GOP that desperate to support candidates that have nothing else to offer Lee County than “broad requests” for email traffic? Bottom line, hundreds of staff hours and thousands of taxpayer dollars will be expended by the local school system. At the end of this inquiry, will the results be published, good or bad?
She not not wrong, NO matter the cost . . . while we are at it lets pull his records from CCCC as well
She sounds unhinged. Send the estimated lawyer’s bill straight to her before starting, and see if she changes her mind.
This is the exact type of BS that is not needed or welcomed on the school board. It sounds just like some crap one of the Womack’s would pull.
I will never vote for Kenna Wilson and promise to discourage anyone that I know not to as well. I’m also removing any political signs I see with her name on it because she is horrible for politics, the school board, and more importantly, our children.
removing signs is illegal….jut saying
Let’s be honest here. This is just another example of a Republican wanting to go on another taxpayer funded fishing expedition. She has no specific thing she is searching for. It is obvious to me that Wilson is not focused on improving the school system. She is laser-focused on digging up dirt if possible.
Mr Kelly needs to request all the legal documents that Kenna Wilson cost the Lee county school system….
She’s just got it out for certain members and for Dr Bryan ..
This is nothing but revenge at its finest…
Please stay in Moore county..
No one has missed you Kenna …
Her and Pam Sutton (AKA power trip Pam) are both horrible for anything school related. Pam got shuffled around because of her horrible leadership and inability to work with her school coworkers.
Wilson is not what Lee county school needs.
“But ,her emails!” sounds vaguely familiar….
No substance just allegations and no policy other than obstruction and obfuscation. These local GOP candidates are not bringing much to the table.
those who live in glass house should not throw stpnes
Big thanks to Kenna Wilson!!
Kelly should be fired, point blank.
There are things you know, and things you don’t.
The great thing about doing a “formal” investigation . . . . discovery!
However if, in fact Mr. Kelly has nothing to hide, why is he being sheltered?
Kenna Wilson is only after trying to get rid of Andy Bryant. She is upset because he removed her from Lee County High School. Kenna Wilson is part of the problem. Do not vote for her,
While North Carolina allows dual office holding, rarely is it fully ethical. This business of working for one unit of government and interfering with or politicking with another is usually a slippery slope.
I wonder if the Moore County Commissioners and Moore County Board of Education are happy with Ms. Wilson stirring in Lee County while taking a Moore County check.
When you wear too many hats it can become difficult to see and resolve things in your “master’s” favor. Who benefits from animus between Moore and Lee County?
Even the tool can be unaware she is being used and ignorant of who is behind the scenes.
The root of all this is a poisonous vine that has been growing in Jonesboro for decades. Petty, personal, small time politics that carpetbagging leaches could feed off of and vex the larger community.
Ha, what a cesspool of a comment section. These are the minds supporting certain people in this failing school system. What a great advertisement for the opposition! Good job everyone.
So you think electing Kenna Wilson, who was principal of Lee County High School when it was graded a D by the State of North Carolina, which I am told is the lowest grade the school ever received, is the answer?
Kelly, a known sexual predator and deviant doesn’t need to be anywhere near a school, a school board or children. Kinky Shelton needs to be gone. IYou are a groomers if you accept this.
And Concerned Citizen is a coward by not putting his/her real name by such a post calling people groomers.
That is a rather serious allegation. I hope you have evidence of it. You seem rather angry.
Most people don’t like groomers and perverts like Kelly and their behavior does anger people.
I think Concerned Citizen is a classic projectionist.
Yet you have yet to provide evidence to support your claim. At this point all you done is libel. Do you have any actual proof?
Bye bye Kenna. Lost tonight by a landslide!!