Whiteville school board chairwoman gives up leadership role, but refuses to resign
Kandle Rogers has stepped down as chairwoman of the Whiteville City Schools Board of Education, but said she will not leave the board.
As NC Newsline previously reported, the embattled Rogers was found guilty of assaulting a government worker in late August. She also allegedly called the worker, who is Black, a racial slur.
“I come before you tonight humbled and embarrassed by the happenings of the last month,” Rogers said at the board’s Monday business meeting. “I am not here, however, to apologize for something I did not do.”
Several media outlets reported that city worker Nishawn Pridgen was placing traffic cones along a roadway during Hurricane Idalia’s flooding when Rogers approached a barricade, got out of her SUV and removed one of the cones to pass.
After Rogers returned to her SUV, Pridgen replaced the cone. That’s when Rogers became irate. She cursed Pridgen, threatened to have him arrested and scratched him when she grabbed his wrist.
Rogers was given a 60-day suspended sentence, instructed to perform 20 hours of community service and ordered to pay court costs. She has appealed the verdict.
The Columbus County NAACP (Whiteville is located in Columbus County) and the NAACP’s North Carolina State Conference have both called on Rogers to resign.
Curtis Hill, president of the Columbus County NAACP, told NC Newsline on Thursday that Rogers stepping down as board chairwoman doesn’t go far enough.
He noted that Rogers’ decision comes a month before the board elects new leaders.
“I don’t think that really solves the issue,” Hill said. “She’s still on the board and her term as chair would have ended in December, so really, what is that? That’s not enough for what she’s been convicted of.”
Hill says Rogers’ behavior is unbecoming of an elected officials, especially one who leads a school district.
“Elected officials are held to a higher standard, and the fact that she was grabbing an adult and using that kind of language, is unacceptable and against the social norms that we have as a community,” Hill said.
Located about 50 miles west of Wilmington, Whiteville City Schools is a small district of little more than 2,000 students. Most students — 52% — are Black and Hispanic. Thirty-eight percent of students are white.
“As a member of the school board, you should reflect the behavior that we expect folks to emulate every day,” Hill said. “That [Rogers’ behavior], is lowering the bar. We’re trying to heal the community and she’s going to act and behave in a manner that’s unbecoming of an elected official.”
Despite the racial composition of the schools and the fact that people of color make up a majority of Whiteville’s population, the city school district’s board has only one African American member and five white members.
Earlier this year, former Columbus County sheriff Jody Greene resigned after a recording was leaked of him making racist comments about his deputies. Greene was also accused of other abuses of power and misconduct.
“She [Rogers] could have used this as a learning opportunity and admitted that she was wrong,” Hill said. “But this defiant behavior and refusal to acknowledge she did anything wrong is totally unbecoming of an elected official.”