PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A Pender County School building has been renamed for the third time in just over a year.
This week, the school board voted to remove the name of former Pender County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Terri Cobb, from the Pender Resource Center, the facility where school board meetings are held, in addition to housing some administrative offices for the school system.
Sources familiar with the change indicated the building was renamed to better honor the service of a dedicated public servant, but we’ve also learned Cobb is not fondly remembered by some people in Pender County, which may have also prompted the latest change.
In September 2017, at the suggestion of Pender County School Board Member Katherine Herring, the school board voted to rename the Pender Resource Center the Dr. Terri Cobb Resource Center, bypassing standard board policy for the naming of school facilities. The vote happened as Cobb was retiring from PCS, where she had served as Superintendent since 2012.
Then, in July, Katherine Herring passed away after 28 years of service on the Pender County School Board. At the August 2018 School Board meeting, Board Chairman Kenneth Lanier moved to rename the Dr. Terri Cobb Resource Center to the Herring-Cobb Resource Center, to honor Herring’s contributions. His motion was seconded and approved.
The hyphenated designation didn’t last long. Lanier lost his reelection bid to Republican Beth Burns. In one of her first moves after being elected to office in November, Burns requested the Herring-Cobb Resource Center be renamed the Katherine Herring Resource Center. Fellow School Board newcomer Ken Smith seconded, and the motion carried, 5-0.
Some members of the public were happy to see the change.
Kenan, an attorney in Burgaw, went on to suggest that the school board adopt stricter criteria moving forward about naming school buildings.
Dante Murphy, a pastor in Hampstead and President of the Pender County NAACP, said he was “elated” the school board had voted to remove Cobb’s name from the building. He said he didn’t have anything against her personally, but felt she had been hired to take a job in Pender County for a relatively short amount of time, and didn’t have much impact on the community outside her role as a paid employee.
Board member Ken Smith said he supported the change because of Herring’s long-time service to Pender County Schools. He said he thought having her name stand alone on the building was a more fitting honor, considering her many years of tireless work in the local community.
Fellow board member Don Hall also supported the change for similar reasons. Hall said they may name something else after Cobb in the future that is more fitting for her six years of service. It is unclear if Cobb still lives in Pender County.
Hall would like to see the board revisit its naming policy for school facilities, and follow it more closely moving forward.
New Hanover County Schools dealt with a similar issue in 2013 when Hoggard High School named its football stadium after longtime Coach Scott Braswell without consulting the school board or NHCS administrators.
School board members did not object to who it had been named for, but were concerned there was no formal policy in place for selecting a name. In the wake of these concerns, a new policy was implemented that requires a six-month waiting period for public feedback and school board approval before a school building is named in someone’s honor.