Kinston attorney Jon Sargeant stepped down as chair of the Lenoir County Board of Education on Monday as prelude to his resigning his place on the board to accept an appointment as a district court judge.
The board moved immediately, and unanimously, at that Monday night meeting to name member Keith King of La Grange as board chair.
Sargeant said he plans to give up the District 3 seat he has held for six years and take his place on the bench before month’s end. His appointment by Gov. Roy Cooper as a judge in District 8 was officially announced by the governor’s office in a news release.
He replaces Chief District Court Judge David S. Brantley, who resigned in March. District 8 serves Lenoir, Greene and Wayne counties.
“It’s really an honor and a privilege to serve as a district court judge. The last few years, especially on this board, I’ve really enjoyed being able to serve the public and when this opportunity came up, it was really an opportunity for me to serve the public full time,” Sargeant said during the school board meeting.
He fought back emotion as he praised fellow board members and school district personnel “for all the progress we’ve made. I feel like I’ve been a part of something really special,” he said.
Sargeant, who was elected to his second four-year term in 2016, was first named board chair in 2013. He has led a school board that selected a new superintendent in Brent Williams, grappled with long-range issues like facilities use and school safety, and overseen the implementation of programs that have led to district-wide academic progress.
Last year Sargeant accepted from the North Carolina School Board Association an award honoring the Lenoir County board with the 2017 School Board Leadership Award for its high level of engagement in the district’s improvement efforts.
Sargeant has served as an attorney in private practice for more than 25 years and has been a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Family Law since 2001. He holds undergraduate and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In comments as he took over leadership of the meeting, King thanked fellow board members for their support. “I’d also like to thank Mr. Sargeant for everything he has done the last several years,” he said. “I would say that Jon is probably one of the main reasons I’m on this board now.”
King, a self-employed property owner/manager, represents District 2, which takes in most of western Lenoir County. He was elected to the board in 2014. He will serve as board chair at least until December, when the board annually selects its leadership.
According to school board attorney Carolyn Waller, filling Sargeant’s unexpired term could be a two-phase process, with board members appointing a temporary replacement from nominations submitted to them, then getting the District 3 seat on the first available ballot, possibly as early as November.
Sargeant’s term would have expired in 2020.