BOE chose experience over local

By: By Katelin Gandee - Staff writer

LAURINBURG — The hiring of Eva DuBuisso of Raleigh as Scotland County School Board attorney by the Committee of the Whole wasn’t unanimous, but each side gave reasonable reasons for their vote.

Herman Tyson and Vice-Chair Rick Singletary both voted for local attorney Brandi Jones Bullock, while Chair Summer Woodside, Jeff Byrd, Wayne Cromartie, Raymond Hyatt and Jamie Sutherland all voted for DuBuisson, who has been working as the interim attorney.

The board agreed in February to hire Tharrington Smith LLP out of Raleigh to act as an attorney after long-time attorney Nick Sojka left in January.

Both Hyatt and Woodside spoke to the Exchange about their reason for voting to hire DuBuisson, which boiled down to the same ingredient: experience.

“I think it was solely based on experience, not just hers but with the firm and the total amount of experience that they have,” Hyatt said. “It’s great to use local and, not underestimating Miss Bullock’s credentials, but Miss DuBuisson has worked solely with schools.”

Woodside also agreed with Hyatt in a separate call, saying the fact that DuBuisson has only worked with educational law and schools was her deciding factor.

Tyson, however, was disappointed with the results — though he said it was nothing personal between the candidates.

“Personally, I’m disappointed that the board had a chance to employee a graduate of Scotland County,” Tyson said. “But as a board member, I don’t foresee any problems working with Miss DuBuisson and Scotland County Schools.”

For Tyson, he has wanted a native of Scotland County to take the position, but understands the consensus of the vote.

“One of the main reasons I chose Miss Bullock was because she’s a product of Scotland County,” Tyson said. “As a board member it was important for me to have someone from Scotland County … she is a role model and shows current students what they could be in the future.”

Bullock is a 1996 graduate of Scotland High School who then earned her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of North Carolina. She began teaching social studies in Durham in 2000 but decided to go to law school, where she graduated from North Carolina Central School of Law in 2013.

While living in Durham she opened her practice, Jones Bullock PLLC, in Laurinburg and commuted for 18 months before moving back to Laurinburg.

The firm focuses on family law, wills and estates, educational law, traffic and criminal defense according to the website with Bullock working in each of the fields.

Bullock had hoped that board would discuss the matter before voting, but instead went straight into a vote, which she hoped would have been a different outcome.

“Of course I was disappointed, but I’m going to continue to work for the students and residents in Scotland County,” Bullock said. “I moved back home to make a difference and that’s what I plan to do.”

Tharrington Smith LLP also focuses on the same areas as Jones Bullock PLLC, but DuBuisson focuses solely on the educational law. DuBuisson has been working in educational law since she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law in 2007.

“I’m very pleased and appreciate the board’s willingness to place their trust in us (Tharrington Smith LLP),” DuBuisson said. “I looking forward to working with them.”

The Laurinburg Exchanged tried to contact Rick Singletary, Jeff Byrd and Jamie Sutherland but did not hear back before deadline.



By Katelin Gandee

Staff writer