The Moore County Board of Education canceled its regular meeting that was scheduled to take place on Monday, Sept. 13 at 6:30 p.m.

After a closed session that began at 4 p.m., school board member David Hensley walked outside of the Moore County Schools’ central office in Carthage and announced to a group of peaceful demonstrators opposing mask mandates that the board voted to cancel the meeting due to a lack of adequate notice to the public of a change in meeting locations.

School board cancels meeting

School board member David Hensley announces to the crowd that the board canceled the meeting.

The meeting was originally scheduled to be held at West Pine Elementary School to accommodate large crowds. The school district announced Friday, Sept. 10 “a change in security procedures” and changed the location to the central office.

“No rallies or gatherings of any kind will be allowed on site,” said the school district about the change of venue. “Members of the public may attend the meeting and offer public comments, but they will otherwise not be permitted to gather or loiter on school system premises. Capacity limits for the board room will be strictly enforced.

“Everyone who attends the meeting will be required to pass through a metal detector to gain entry to the building, as is the routine practice at many government meetings. Out of an abundance of caution, there will be a heightened police presence at the meeting. Moore County Schools emphasizes that we are aware of no threats to the safety or security of students, staff, parents, or visitors at any Moore County school. Nevertheless, law enforcement have recommended and endorsed these measures to help ensure a safe and orderly board meeting while a particular concern is under review.”

However, in response to the change in meeting location, board member Libby Carter wrote on her board of education Facebook page on Saturday, Sept. 11 that there were “credible threats” to those who attend the meetings.

“This decision was not made quickly or taken lightly but was based on law enforcement evaluation of credible threats to the safety of those who attend our meetings,” said Carter. “More on this may be shared at a later date but because of an ongoing investigation, it must remain confidential at this time.”

But on Monday, the school district reversed course and announced demonstrations would be allowed at the central office.

“Based on further consultation with the Moore County Sheriff’s Office and Moore County Schools Police, Moore County Schools will accommodate a peaceful demonstration ahead of the Board of Education meeting this afternoon,” said the school district. “The demonstration may proceed under the new security procedures put in place for the Monday, September 13, 2021 regular business meeting of the Moore County Board of Education.”

School board cancels meeting 3

Beth Pratt speaks Monday at a demonstration outside the Moore County Schools’ central office in Carthage

A group called Moore Families for Quality Education held a “Rally for the Children” outside the central office Monday afternoon where Hensley alerted them that the meeting was canceled. Moore Families for Quality Education’s Facebook page says it was “created to unite our community as we search for progress and practical solutions to create positive learning.”

The board rescheduled the meeting for Sept. 22 at the central office with the open session beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Feature photo: A group of demonstrators outside the Moore County Schools’ central office in Carthage on Monday afternoon.

Photos of demonstrators captured by Sandhills Sentinel Photographer John Patota.

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