by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
In a June 11 letter to State Auditor Beth Wood, Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson calls out State Board of Education members Eric Davis and J.B. Buxton for executing a $30,822 contract with the Southern Regional Education Board to study the state accountability system.
I write you today to express concern that Eric Davis, Chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Education (“State Board”), negotiated and executed a state contract in violation of North Carolina law and State Board contracting requirements. Davis refused to answer basic questions to resolve the matter, forcing an investigation by the Department of Public Instruction (“DPI”). During DPI’s efforts to resolve this issue, two State Board members were not truthful in their public responses and the then-State Board Attorney Eric Snider actively worked to block DPI staff’s efforts. Snider recently resigned his position with the State Board.
Results of the investigation indicate that:
- Davis and State Board Member John Bruce “JB” Buxton violated state law by evading vendor-competition for state funds;
- Davis and Buxton were not truthful in their public statements when questioned on this matter; and
- Davis allowed Buxton to oversee the contract despite the fact that Buxton had a recent financial relationship with the vendor and a conflict of interest.
Johnson concludes, “DPI has concerns regarding the actions of Davis and Buxton to negotiate and execute this contract in violation of multiple laws, rules, and polices; to attempt to direct taxpayer dollars to a third-party vendor having a preexisting relationship with Buxton’s for-profit consulting company; and to contradict the public records in this matter through their public statements.”