Iredell County commissioner Renee Griffith has acknowledged to a state agency that she falsified a building inspection form related to her private Christian school in Statesville and then lied to cover it up, according to a report in the (Statesville) Record & Landmark newspaper .
Griffith, a Republican seeking her second term on the board in November, initially told state officials the falsification was the fault of a former employee but later admitted she fabricated that story, the newspaper reported Friday.
“There is no excuse for my actions,” Griffith wrote to the N.C. Division of Child Development and Early Education, which accredits her school, Cornerstone Christian Academy, according to the Record & Landmark.
The case involved the school contacting the state agency on May 25 about adjusting its license to allow for five more rooms to be converted into classrooms in Cornerstone Baptist Church, where the school is based, the paper reported.
Jennifer Cartner, child care licensing consultant for the agency, told the school it first needed to provide proof of an up-to-date fire, sanitation and building inspection, the paper said.
On July 2, Cartner visited the school and was given its fire, sanitation and building inspections by Griffith, according to the Record & Landmark. When she reviewed the documents on July 5, Cartner discovered that the first two pages of the building inspection listed the inspection date as March 12, 2011, but that the last page listed the inspection date as Aug. 10, 2010. When Carter inquired about the discrepancy, Griffith blamed the problem on a fictional employee for several days before finally admitting in an emailed letter to Cartner on July 10 that she made the changes herself, the paper reported.
In an interview with the newspaper Thursday, Griffith, who is the school’s principal, denied any wrongdoing. The newspaper reported that it then obtained documents that detailed her admission to the agency. Griffith then acknowledged to a reporter what she’d done and said she doesn’t expect Iredell County residents to trust her anymore.
Griffith hadn’t resigned her seat as of Friday. Becky Galliher, director of the Iredell County Board of Elections, told the newspaper that Griffith had spoken with her by phone but that no formal discussion of a resignation took place.
“Ultimately, that’s going to be her decision,” commissioners’ Chairman Steve Johnson told the newspaper. “I’m not going to kick the girl when she’s down. She made a mistake, and she asked me personally to forgive her, which I’ve done.”
Other commissioners weren’t so forgiving.
“I definitely think that this changes the dynamic of the relationship between the board and Renee and the public and Renee,” commissioner Ken Robertson of Mooresville told the paper.
Said commissioner Frank Mitchell of north Iredell: “She needs to go ahead and resign, so the board can get something done without this hanging over the board and every decision we make.”
In an editorial last week, the newspaper called on Griffith to resign her seat on the Iredell County Board of Commissioners. “Her constituents can no longer have faith in her motivations or the truth of her statements,” the editorial said.