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Superintendent’s office: After controversial shutdown, full DPI communications resume Aug. 1

DPI Superintendent Mark Johnson

DPI Superintendent Mark Johnson

Full communications from the state’s top public school agency will resume Aug. 1, state Superintendent Mark Johnson’s office said Friday.

Policy Watch reported this month on a controversial order from Johnson that staff in the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) would halt communications over a state listserv used to dispatch instructions and support to schools and administrators across North Carolina.

Johnson said the stoppage—which offered some exceptions for legally-required public meeting notifications and other vital notices—was necessary after last month’s retirement of the department’s longtime communications chief.

Members of the State Board of Education chose a replacement last week.

Yet personnel in the department told Policy Watch the directive came at a particularly busy time for central office staff at the state and local level as they prepare for the coming school year.

Critics of the GOP superintendent suggested the mandate was a political move to stifle communications from the agency, which had long been under Democratic control until Johnson’s election last November.

Johnson denied that was the intent, describing the shutdown as “appropriate” while DPI sought a new communications director.

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