RALEIGH — Last month, North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper quietly filled the state Board of Education seat vacated by former member Todd Chasteen in February.
No press release was issued by the governor at the time of the appointment of John Blackburn to Chasteen’s Northwest region seat which happened sometime in March.
It was not until media outlets asked about the appointment on April 6 that Cooper’s office issued a statement with an extensive list of appointments to boards and commissions in the state. Blackburn’s appointment appears about halfway down the list.
“John M. Blackburn of Linville as the 7th Education District Representative. Blackburn was the President and General Manager of Linville Resorts, Inc. He serves as chair of the Linville Foundation and Linville Volunteer Fire Department Trust. Blackburn previously served on the Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees,” reads the brief excerpt from Cooper’s press release.
As of this report, the website created by Cooper for transparency in board and commission appointments has not been updated to reflect Chasteen’s departure or Blackburn’s appointment.
An official from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction said they were unaware of the appointment until North State Journal reached out to the department to ask about it. Similarly, no mention of Blackburn’s appointment was made at last month’s State Board of Education meeting.
During opening remarks at the April 6 meeting of the state Board of Education, Chairman Eric Davis announced the board would “soon welcome the addition of our newest board member, John Blackburn, who will join us at our next meeting,” adding that Blackburn “may be participating online” at their current meeting.
According to the state Board of Education’s member bio list, “Mr. Blackburn was appointed in March 2022 to serve the remaining time on a term vacated. He volunteers in a variety of different organizations. Mr. Blackburn enjoys reading, hiking, travel & service to the community. He has received many awards for his service in North Carolina.” The bio states his term will expire in March 2023.
Blackburn, a registered Democrat from Avery County, currently sits on the Board of Trustees at Appalachian State University with a term that expires in 2023.
North State Journal broke the story of Chasteen’s departure on Feb. 8 of this year.
Chasteen’s resignation was effective Feb. 1, and in his resignation letter obtained by North State Journal, he cited the controversial updates to the state’s Social Studies Standards which were passed in early 2021, and a “trajectory away from education and towards activism” by the current board.