Educators testify in funding case

Sep. 28, 2013 @ 04:37 PM

Principals and teachers of Union County Public Schools took the stand Friday. 

Kevin Plue, principal of Forest Hills High School; Candace Boatwright, principal of Indian Trail Elementary School; and Michael Zezich, assistant principal at Sun Valley High School, testified Friday morning. 

Judge Erwin Spainhour clarified his statement Thursday about the length of the trial. He said that while he urges them to finish by next Friday, he knows he cannot make that happen. Spainhour told the attorneys he would allow everyone to present their cases fully.

Later in the afternoon, Jennifer Mao, a prekindergarten teacher at Walter Bickett Education Center, testified. 

Mao testified about her classroom on part of the campus leaking. She said it would sometimes damage supplies. Mao said she worked out how to arrange the furniture in the classroom to best avoid the leaks. She testified that she would tell her site administrator, and the leaks would be fixed in a few days. 

The proposed 2013-2014 capital improvement plan includes installing strategic fencing and host-based intrusion detection systems at eight doors for safety reasons, toilet room renovations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and an engineering evaluation. 

An attorney with Schwartz & Shaw, the firm representing the board of education, asked Mao if the school needed ADA bathrooms. Mao said yes, because they need equal access for all the students and their families. He asked if they needed fencing and HIDs, and she said yes, to keep the kids safe. 

Mao said that as a prekindergarten teacher, she is a child’s first introduction to school. Whether or not they like going to school may depend on her. She said she works hard to make sure it is a positive experience for each child. 

Board of County Commissioners Attorney Ligon Bundy cross-examined Mao, asking about different buildings on the Walter Bickett Education Center campus and whether or not she had seen them leak. 

Mao said she had not seen leaks in one building, but noticed wet tiles there earlier this week. In another building that houses the cafeteria and classrooms she said she had not seen leaks personally since returning to school in July. 

Court recessed early Friday and will resume Monday at 9:30 a.m.