Report didn’t settle issue of books versus barbecue

First Posted: 7/11/2013

To the Editor,

When I brought to light weeks ago the volume of catering by the Public Schools of Robeson County that has existed during the past five years, I spoke directly about buying barbecue versus buying books.

The highlights of the PSRC Sojka report were few. Sojka found that Superintendent Johnny Hunt was not involved in drafting or administering contracts. Hunt only signs the checks. Sojka said that based on what he looked at, which wasn’t everything that existed or the full time period in question, he believes there are no violations. Sojka looked for “conflict of interest.” He interviewed lots and lots of folks. Sojka expressed interest in expensive foods and saw Hunt making other people do work.

Sojka did not state publicly whether or not the PSRC spending $251,351 with Fullers Barbecue over the past five years constituted a conflict of interest. Sojka did say that the action by Eric Locklear of Fullers Barbecue to create Fullers Catering LLC would prevent future violations of the North Carolina general statutes regarding conflict of interest. While I am reading between the lines here, I am noting that Sojka’s review did not show the $28,000 increase in Fuller contracts over five years as five other vendors were reduced or eliminated.

The issue as I have brought it forth, yes, concerned conflict of interest, but more importantly it concerned the interest of Robeson County’s children. Regardless how many pages comprise a report that dances around language and creates new ways to do old things, the children of Robeson County are still sitting in an education system that is underserving them.

I would venture that Hunt or the members of the Board of Education would not want to be seen by a doctor, a dentist, or any medical professional who acquired credentials by studying without books as our children in Robeson County have to do every day.

So type up your investigative reports. Please print one side only. Come August, our classrooms in Robeson County will probably still not have paper or books. At least then we can use the back sides of the Sojka report for writing paper so children in spite of the PSRC may receive an education in our county.

Robeson County public school officials must think the people of Robeson County to be very simple-minded if they think Sojka settled the issue. The issue remains that children are not getting books while administrators are still fighting to eat barbecue.

Eric R. Locklear