BY MIKE FUHRMAN
Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education member Mike Kubiniec and his supporters have gone on the offensive in the weeks since he was removed as vice chairman.
With Kubiniec facing the likelihood of a censure vote at the next Board meeting, he and Moms for Liberty members have been working to have Board member Abby Trent removed from office on the grounds that she no longer lives in her district. After their efforts were thwarted at the Board’s last meeting, this group has turned to local elections officials for help achieving that result.
After the I-SS Board meeting on November 6, a Moms for Liberty member contacted Iredell County elections officials and demanded Trent be removed from her seat on the Board. When that effort was brushed aside, another member, Jill Schooley, filed a complaint with the Board of Elections challenging Trent’s voter registration on the grounds she had moved. That challenge is expected to be heard on Friday.
Kubiniec claims that Trent is no longer eligible to represent her district because she moved out of her home and into a family-owned residence in another I-SS district. He provided other board members with evidence that she had moved, including a photo of her vehicle parked at another residence.
Trent does not dispute that she has moved. She notified school district officials in August that she was moving temporarily because her home needs major repair work. She told the Board then and reiterated to Iredell Free News in an interview that she plans to return to her home once those renovations are completed.
Chairman Bill Howell said he consulted with elections officials after Trent notified the Board that she was moving, and he was told that she can remain in office and complete her term if the move is temporary.
Trent, who is in the third trimester of a difficult pregnancy, said the efforts of Kubiniec and Board member Anita Kurn to target her — after she voted with the chairman and Board members Charles Kelly and Doug Knight to strip Kubiniec of the vice chairmanship — have been hurtful and harmful to her health and the health of her baby.
“My pregnancy is high risk,” she said. “This has put a lot of added stress on me.”
Trent believes the efforts of Kurn and Kubiniec and their associates have crossed the line and may have violated the law. Her mother, Angela Matthews, has asked the Iredell County Sheriff’s Office to investigate.
Trent and her grandfather, who owns the property where Trent has lived for the past five years, have received dozens of harassing phone calls during the past five weeks. She also finds it disturbing that Kubiniec or his “anonymous source” would drive by her home and take pictures.
Chairman Howell spearheaded the effort to have Kubiniec removed as vice chair and also made the motion to censure him after receiving numerous complaints from district employees about how Kubiniec treated them. Howell also claims that Kubiniec has overstepped his authority as a Board member and violated district policies on numerous occasions during his first year in office.
Trent and Matthews believe the efforts of Kurn, Kubiniec, Schooley and others are part of a concerted effort to retaliate against Trent for doing what she believes is right.
After the October 3 board meeting, during which Chairman Howell told the Board he planned to ask the Board to remove Kubiniec from his leadership position and censure him, Matthews received a text message from Schooley’s son, Micah Phelps, foreshadowing what has happened in recent weeks.
“Every back stabbing thing you have done is coming back 100 fold,” Phelps texted. “Get ready for anarchy. Joshua and Caleb are coming jezzebelle, and they are going to rain fire and brimstone over your nasty wicked self.”
(For those who have not been following the I-SS Board for the past year, Phelps is a convicted drug offender who refers to himself as the “puppet master.” Before Kubiniec, Kurn, Sloan and Trent were elected, Phelps claimed that he controlled their votes. He has also identified himself as Kubiniec’s campaign manager.)
In the five weeks since Kubiniec was ousted as vice chair, one or more members of the Board have contacted several of the I-SS employees who filed complaints against Kubiniec and questioned them about the complaints, multiple sources have told Iredell Free News. If that proves to be the case, it would be a violation of the Board’s Code of Ethics and possibly state law.
Multiple sources told Iredell Free News that the Board will ask I-SS attorney Dean Shatley to oversee an investigation into whether district employees who filed complaints against Kubiniec have been improperly questioned, coerced or intimidated by Kubiniec, Kurn and others.
During the Board’s meeting on November 6, Kubiniec said he had investigated the complaints against him and found them to be without merit. He called the proceedings against him a “sham show.”
In an interesting turn, Kubiniec has been complaining to Superintendent Jeff James about the division between himself, Kurn and Brian Sloan and the other four board members.
In emails obtained by Iredell Free News in a public records request, Kubiniec recommended that the board participate in mediation in an effort to “figure out how to work together and get along.”
He also questioned the new seating arrangement during board meetings.
It “visibly separates the ‘Hatfields from the McCoys’ and creates a ‘separation’ from conducting business on the board, this is not a good look,” Kubiniec wrote to the superintendent. “Additionally it sends a signal to the public that reinforces this division.”
“We all have to figure out how to work together and get along — for the betterment of our school district, you, your staff, and most importantly, our children and I truly mean this.”
♦ I-SS Board to consider motions to censure Vice Chair Kubiniec, strip him of leadership position
♦ I-SS Board ousts Kubiniec from leadership position; Kelly elected new vice chairman
♦ Kubiniec and Kurn attempt to have Trent disqualified from seat on I-SS Board