In major turnaround, General Assembly confirms three Cooper nominations to the State Board of Education

J.B. Buxton

What a difference a year or so makes.

The Republican-led General Assembly on Wednesday confirmed J.B. Buxton’s appointment to the State Board of Education (SBE) without the drama that accompanied his nomination more than a year ago.

Buxton, Wendell Hall and Donna Tipton-Rogers, all nominated by Gov. Roy Cooper, were confirmed during a joint floor session on a 140-8 vote.

Buxton, an education consultant from Raleigh and former administrator in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, was first nominated by Cooper in May 2017.

His nomination and that of Sandra Byrd, a decorated high school teacher and associate professor at UNC Asheville, were rejected by Republican lawmakers who overwhelming approved the reappointment of Reginald Kenan.

Cooper again nominated Buxton in June 2018 but Republicans shutdown the nomination down without explanation.

In October 2018, Cooper appointed Buxton, Greenville’s Jill Camnitz, a former local school board member in Pitt County and Charlotte’s James Ford, a former state teacher of the year in 2014-2015, to fill board vacancies.

Because the three were filling vacancies, they were not subject to confirmation by the state legislature.

On Wednesday, the state legislature did not vote on Cooper’s renomination of Ford and Camnitz. They will continue to serve pending further action by the General Assembly, according to a message on House Speaker Tim Moore’s website.

Hall has the distinction of being the only person to have led the N.C. School Boards Association and the N.C. Association of School Administrators.

Meanwhile, Tipton-Rogers is president and CEO of Tri-County Community College.

The confirmation of three of Cooper’s nominations gives the SBE a full slate of board members for the first time in many months.

It might also signal a thawing of years of partisan stonewalling that has marked the Republican-led General Assembly when it comes to nominations put forth by Democratic governors.

Sen. Deanna Ballard, a Republican from Blowing Rock, offered this insight in quotes published on Moore’s website.

“Each of the nominees confirmed today have distinguished backgrounds in education and are qualified for the role of board member,” Ballard said. “They appear to be without conflicts of interest and willing to follow the laws of our state and serve the best interests of our students, and we appreciate the time they spent with members of the Senate during this process.”

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