Politicking In Buncombe County Schools

Those following this blog know I’ve written about multiple instances of politicking in North Carolina involving our schools. The latest instance comes from Buncombe county. USA Today is running a story about the misuse of school email for political purposes there.


A Buncombe County school employee who reportedly forwarded an email to fellow employees asking them to vote for school board candidate Cindy McMahon “exceeded the reasonable use of email” by a school employee, according to a school system spokesman.

School board member Lisa Baldwin, who is running against McMahon, sent the email to the Citizen-Times on Friday.

The email appears to have originated from former school system employee Carmen Murray, using a Gmail account. Murray sent the email to two employees at Sand Hill-Venable Elementary School. In the email, she encouraged employees to vote for McMahon. “We simply must remove Lisa Baldwin from our school board immediately,” the email read.

USA Today doesn’t publish said email, but I will.

This email, since sent to a public school account, is subject to Freedom of Information Act laws.
Ms. Murray’s email implies this is not her first contact with Buncombe teachers bearing this same message. Ms. Murray’s position as a school principal clearly makes this course of action inappropriate at best and abuse of her position for electioneering purposes at worst.

From: Carmen Murray <carmenfishermurray@gmail.com>
Date: Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 8:58 AM
Subject: School Board Endorsements
To: Beverly.Combs@bcsemail.org, Betsy Oakes <betsy.oakes@bcsemail.org>

Hi friends! As principal, I would have never endorsed a specific candidate to vote for (and certainly not in writing!), but as your friend, you can better believe I’m going to be vocal about how important the upcoming school board election is. I’m sure you remember me telling you that as a group of educators, we can single handedly elect who we want in office, or in this case, who we don’t want on our Board. So with that said, PLEASE GO VOTE for CINDY MCMAHON.

We simply must remove Lisa Baldwin from our school board immediately! It doesn’t matter about what district you are in. Candidate are elected system wide on a non partisan basis.

My other endorsements are Pat Bryant and Max Queen. 

Now, please also tell all the rest of your friends and relatives that we need their help as well. Don’t assume that someone else will do it for you! Use your voice!!
Okay, off my soap box.

Hope you are doing well and having a great year! I miss you guys very much and think about you often. I’m having a great time and enjoying spending precious time with my family. Take care! Love ya, 

Bev or Betsy,
Please forward this to the SHV staff. Since my bcs account is no longer active, I don’t have my staff group, and due to the political content of this message, it shouldn’t come from the administration there, but it’s fine to forward it on my behalf if you don’t mind. Thx!  🙂


About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a freelance journalist and is currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_
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