Patsy Simpson officially resigned from the Alamance-Burlington School System Board of Education, despite a previous announcement that she would not step down until learning how the board would be finding her replacement.
Simpson has expressed her plans to retire since March; however, the board’s lack of transparency regarding the selection process of her replacement caused her to rescind her resignation. After a recent surgery, Simpson said she started to feel overwhelmed with all the work she was undertaking and decided that it was time for her to relax and focus on herself.
She initially announced in March that she would resign on May 22. She then declared in early April that she would remain on the board, but changed her mind on April 21. According to Sandy Ellington-Graves, the chairwoman of the ABSS board, Patsy had sent a letter to the board regarding her intentions to resign, which she read during the last meeting on April 24.
“We will miss her knowledge and expertise, but I am confident that the six board members that remain can serve the community,” Graves said.
As the only person of color on the board, she also acted as a voice for students and parents who felt they were not being heard and brought issues and concerns they had to the front of the board. Simpson said she wanted her replacement to be able to serve as a voice for underrepresented students as well.
Members of the community are sad to see her go. Seneca Rogers, a former candidate for a seat on the ABSS Board of Education, said he feels that Simpson has greatly served the board. Last month, in a previous interview with Elon News Network, Simpson said she supported Rogers for the role.
Rogers also said he appreciates how she is willing to go against the norm and make waves while making her opinions known. As a member of Alamance Community, he feels the board could still benefit from Simpson’s base of knowledge and experience for the remainder of her term. However, he respects her decision to resign.
“When some people feel like it is time for them to step aside, you give her that understanding and grace to be able to do that in a way they see fit,” Rogers said.
Rogers was one of the runner-ups for a seat on the ABSS Board of Education during the midterm elections in November. He was the only person of color who ran in the election. He said he hasn’t decided whether he will run again as he is focusing on other projects, but is waiting to see what the board is releasing about the application process.
“The reason why I say right now that I’m not 100 percent on my run in 2024 yet is because I want to make sure that I have weighed everything in that process,” Rogers said.
The ABSS Board is inviting Simpson to return to Alamance County on May 22 to honor her for her service on the Board of Education.
“We are looking forward to honoring her. She is a friend and a colleague that I will miss,” Graves said.
Simpson is still paying attention to the actions of the ABSS Board of Education. She said she will be watching the ABSS Board meetings through the ABSS website as a part of the audience rather than a board member. Simpson said the board does not have the same lens of experience that she has, but has faith that they will develop it over time.
“They’ll see me at the three-minute public comment section of the meeting, and I’ll have to voice my opinion with them just like any other citizen now,” Simpson said.
Simpson said she hopes the remaining board members will be able to prepare for the transition of students to Southeast Alamance High School, an initiative meant to relieve overcrowding in schools, as well as tackle other issues the ABSS is facing without her presence.
In the meantime, Simpson plans to spend time with her grandchildren, conduct research on her family history and relax and focus on herself. Despite this, Simpson said she is still interested in public education and will continue to pay close attention to the ABSS board past retirement.
“I’ll be watching the meetings and following what’s going on, and use my voice and my knowledge to speak with them as a citizen as they go public on issues,” Simpson said.