UNION COUNTY – When Governor Roy Cooper benevolently allowed the citizens of North Carolina to move into Phase 2 of reopening the state, it appeared the order limited crowd-sizes to 25 people or less for outdoor events did not apply to educational institutions.
The order said educational institutions were exempt, and that pleased members of the Union County Board of Education because it meant they could provide their students with a traditional graduation ceremony (with social distancing, of course!) that gave the recognition, pride, and closure that these seniors deserved as they graduate from high school.
Except, Governor Cooper backtracked, clarifying that the exemption was not meant for event such as graduation ceremonies. Oh, really? Well, too bad, the Board said, because that’s exactly what we’re doing.
“[…] “Obviously we have a terrible lack of leadership from the governor of our state,” school board member Gary Sides said. “We’re trying to fumble through and not deprive these kids of one of the most important events of their life. “
“Gov. Cooper is not allowing us to do the things we would normally do for our students,” Vice Chair Kathy Heintel said. “And I call for the people to ask him why he’s not allowing us to do this.”
Board Member Gary Sides issued a motion to host face-to-face graduations outside at Union County School stadiums while practicing social distancing, which would violate Governor Cooper’s Phase 2 order.
“I don’t like the governor’s order at all,” board member Christina Helms said. “I think they’re ridiculous and I’m appalled by him right now. But I think it’s a good example for our students that you might not like the law but you need to obey it.”
“We need to abide by the governor’s orders,” board member Joseph Morreale said. “While we don’t agree with them we still need to abide by them. And I’m not willing to sit in jail to host a traditional graduation.”
The motion narrowly passed in a 5-4 vote.
But discussions continued to explore back-up plans like hosting graduation in South Carolina or breaking up graduations into small groups that honor the governor’s order.
Violating the governor’s order is a class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Chairperson Merrell says it would likely amount $11,000 fine because there are 11 high schools in the district.” […]”
Consider, for a moment, how asinine this rule is if the schools elect to merely visit South Carolina to have a traditional graduation ceremony and then come back. Think about how absurd it is that a person would go to jail or face thousands in fines for allowing that exact same event to happen in Union County.
The people and leaders of Union County have taken a strong stance against the governor’s nonsensical, unconstitutional, over-the-top orders ever since it became clear that the ‘cure was worse than the disease.’
We extend our sincere congratulations to all the graduating seniors across North Carolina, and especially those in Union County where they are lucky to have leaders that fight for them, even when it means risking violation of the governor’s edict.