The attorney for Bill Goebel, who either is or was the District 3 Guilford County Board of Education member, says the North Carolina General Assembly doesn’t have the authority to remove Goebel from the school board, but other attorneys disagree.

Chuck Winfree of Adams & Winfree, who represents Goebel in this matter, sent a letter to the eight other members of the Guilford County Board of Education stating that Senate Bill 9, which removed Goebel from the board, was unconstitutional.

However, Robert Joyce, the Charles Edwin Hinsdale Professor of Public Law and Government at the UNC School of Government, on the Coates’ Canons NC Local Government Law blog titled “Removing Elected Board Members From Office” stated the opposite. That post published Feb. 2, 2015 states, “Could the General Assembly pass a local act providing this: ‘Fred Jones is removed as a member of the board of education of Taxfree County?’ That is, could the legislature, by local act, remove a member of local government governing board?

“The answer to the question appears to be Yes, though such an action by the General Assembly would seem to be unlikely.

“In 1925 the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld the authority of the General Assembly to abolish the Hyde County board of commissioners, terminate the terms of the sitting commissioners, and replace them with a new board. It noted that counties ‘are subject practically to the unlimited control of the Legislature’ and that elected officials have ‘no’ vested property or contract right to the office to which they [have] been elected of which they could not be deprived by the Legislature.’ State ex rel. O’Neal v. Jennette, 190 N.C. 96.

“So legislative removal seems theoretically available, but unlikely.”

Winfree agrees with Joyce that the legislature has the ability to abolish a board, as in the case of Hyde County, and remove all the elected members from the board.  Winfree also stated, “The legislature is pretty much free to do what they want.”

But Winfree stated that one thing the legislature couldn’t do is remove one individual from a governing board.

When asked about Joyce’s opinion on the issue, Winfree said, “That’s why we have judges to resolve issues like this.”