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Another Letter Details Kafitz Interaction PDF Print
Written by Steve Frank   
Monday, 28 January 2013 15:23

Another written account has surfaced involving an interaction with Watauga Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Kafitz. The statement comes from Watauga Board of Elections Director Jane Ann Hodges concerning an incident on Election Day 2012.  Hodges statement tells of being informed by Janice Carroll, Chief Judge of the Meat Camp Precinct about students being allowed into the voting area in the Gym at Green Valley School, an area restricted by state law as to who can be there during voting. Hodges statement describes terse interactions with the principal, Phillip Griffin—first with Carroll at the school—then on the phone with Hodges. Hodges says she informed Griffin of the state statute, to which he is reported to have replied that students had been allowed in the past, and that he would not remove the students.  Hodges told him she would have to ask law enforcement to respond, her account saying he replied that the Sheriff’s Department was slow to respond to that area and challenged her to go ahead, saying that school would be underway by the time they arrived. Ms. Carroll told Hodges that as soon as that conversation was over, the principal immediately removed the students from the area.  With news reports of the incident, Hodges goes on to say that she received a call from Dr. Kafitz, first asking for her side of the story, but as she began to give her accounting, she was told to ‘shut up,’ and that “he would tell me when to talk.” She was told by Kafitz that if she would have a problem with a principal that she was to call him, Dr. Kafitz, to discuss it before she called anyone else, further telling her to leave a message with his secretary and that “he would return her call at his convenience.”  Hodges goes on to say that Kafitz was “very rude, and even informed me that this would be my last election,” and that he was taking the matter to the Watauga County Commission. He also said he agreed with principal Griffin, that she, Hodges, was “one of those.” After Hodges—finally granted permission to speak—started to explain the state statute and was again told by Kafitz that “this would be my last election and that he would see me in front of the County Commissioners.” Hodges is hired by the State Board of Elections. Dr. Kafitz was left a message about the letter with an opportunity to respond. Late Monday afternoon, the Watauga Board of Education announced a specially called meeting for Wednesday at 6, a closed session on personnel.


STATEMENT FROM:

JANE ANN HODGES, DIRECTOR, WATAUGA COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS

On November 6,2012 (Election Day), I received a call from the Chief Judge at the Meat Camp Precinct
(Polling Place is the Green Valley School). Janice Carroll, Chief Judge informed me that the Gym teacher,
Mr. Jones, was allowing students to enter the gym and had pulled out a portion ofthe bleachers for
such students to sit on until time for school to begin.
Ms. Carroll and all 118 precinct workers were trained by Director Hodges prior to Election Day
concerning who is allowed to enter the voting enclosure.
According to GS 163-166.3, there is limited access to the voting enclosure.
Persons who may enter are:
Election officials (Chief Judge, Judges, Assistants)
Observers appointed pursuant to G.S. 163-45
Runners appointed pursuant to G.S. 163-45
Persons seeking to vote, but only while in the process of voting or seeking to vote.
A person authorized to assist a voter.
Minor children of the voter while in the care of the voter. ... but only while accompanying the
voter and while under the control of the voter.
Ms. Carroll informed Mr. Jones that the students would not be allowed to sit on the bleachers and
would not be allowed in the gym. According to Ms. Carroll, Mr. Jones contacted Principal Griffin and the
Principal was informed ofthe G.S., at which time he became very upset and stated that the children had
been allowed in this area in the past. Ms. Carroll contacted me and I spoke to the Principal who was
very rude and informed me that he would not cooperate in this matter. I informed him that if he would
not remove the students then I would need to call 911 and have such people removed. He stated .... go
ahead .... by the time they get out here the school day will already be underway. He stated that the
Sheriff's Department was slow in responding to that area of the county. I informed him that he was
giving me no choice but to have the Sherriff's Department provide assistance. I hung up and contacted
the Sheriff's Department and ask that they go to the school and assist Ms. Carroll in removing anyone
who should not be in the voting enclosure. Ms. Carroll informed me that as soon as the Principal got off
the phone ... he immediately removed the students from the gym area.
Approximately 1 hour later the Press (WATA, High County Press) came to my office and ask what the problem was .... why we had requested assistance from the Sherriff's office for the Green Valley School.
I informed them of the situation and told them that evidently it was a misunderstanding, since the school had been allowed to have the Students in that area in the past but should not have and would not be allowed to in the future.
Later that morning, I received a call from Superintendent Kafitz. Dr. Kafitz said that he wanted to hear my side of the "story". When' tried to tell him who is allowed in a voting enclosure .... he told me to shut - up and he would tell me when to talk ..... I was shocked that he would not even allowed me to explain the General Statutes. He informed me that from that point on if I have a problem with a principal that I would call him and discuss it before I called anyone else. He was very rude and even informed me that this would be my last election .... because he would be meeting me before the County Commissioners.
Finally after several minutes of dictating what should have happened and what would happen in the
future     he stopped talking     there was a long pause     then he said     well are you not going to talk     and I informed him that I had not been given permission. He then informed me that he agreed with Principal Griffin .... that I was one of those. I then tried to explain G.5. 163-166.3 and that for the safety of the students we could not allow them in the voting enclosure unless they were with a parent or guardian. He informed me that the safety of students was not my concern. He informed me again that if I have a problem with the Principal that I should contact his Secretary and she would contact him and then he would call me back at his convenience. I informed Dr. Kafitz that my duty is to follow G.S. 163 ..... and if I feel that someone is violating the General Statutes of North Carolina, I will do whatever is needed to protect the voter's rights. He then again informed me that this would be my last election and that he would see me in front of the County Commissioners. Several times while I was trying to explain what had happened earlier in the day and explain different General Statutes, Dr. Kafitz would interrupt me and' repeatedly told him that I had shown him the courtesy of listening to him and he should do the same for me.

 

  
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