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NEWS RELEASES 2002-03 :: MAY 1, 2003


RALEIGH, N.C. - A Cumberland County principal has received the state's top honor in the 2003 Wachovia Principal of the Year competition.

Former State Senator Howard Lee today was elected chair of the State Board of Education by his fellow Board members as part of their regular May meeting. Lee is the first African-American to serve as Board chair. On Tuesday, Gov. Mike Easley appointed Lee to the State Board of Education to fill the term of outgoing State Board Chairman Phillip J. Kirk, who is retiring from the Board.

State Superintendent Mike Ward said he was pleased that a person with the legislative know-how and experience of Howard Lee was elected to chair the State Board. "Howard Lee is a strong advocate for North Carolina's public schools and will provide excellent leadership to ensure that the state's successful school improvement efforts continue," Ward said.

During his tenure in the North Carolina Senate, Lee led efforts to enact legislation on school safety, school accountability and improving teacher quality. He played a role in the passage of the 1995 legislation that led to the creation of the ABCs accountability program and the Excellent Schools Act of 1997, which has improved North Carolina's teachers' pay to a competitive level and raised standards for the teaching profession.

The Board's chairman serves a two-year term. Board members are appointed by the Governor and serve eight-year terms. The State Treasurer and Lieutenant Governor also are members of the Board. Lee's term expires March 31, 2005.

Dr. Jane Norwood, professor of Education at Appalachian State University, is vice-chair of the State Board.

For more information, please call the Department of Public Instruction's Communications Division at 919.807.3450.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.

For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.