CARY — Wake County school board member Debra Goldman on Tuesday turned away detailed questions about recent controversies surrounding a 2010 burglary at her house, dismissing them as the work of her estranged husband.
Her school board colleagues appeared ready to move forward on other matters including student assignment. Neither board members nor speakers during a public comment period raised the matter. In her comments to media, Goldman blamed her husband for the controversy and turned an interview to the subject of her run for state auditor.
Her husband, Steven Goldman, has denied sending a much-discussed police report on the burglary to media outlets but has been in occasional contact with The News & Observer on matters involving the couple’s child custody and divorce issues.
“There is one person who has peppered the media for over a year,” Debra Goldman said.
Goldman called the release of the police report and other information about the break-in the work of one vengeful person. It was clear from the context and from previous statements by Goldman that she was referring to her husband. The two are in the process of getting a divorce.
Debra Goldman questioned the timing of the report’s release – during her run for state auditor. She gave reporters a copy of a recent administrative law hearing involving the dismissal of an employee, saying the media should focus on the management practices of her opponent, incumbent State Auditor Beth Wood.
“Stop the tabloid journalism,” Goldman said. “Stop reporting the false allegations.”
Goldman said she will continue to serve and perform detailed research on school board issues. She was asked if she is still running for state auditor.
“Yes, I am, so please vote for me,” she said.
Goldman first appeared at an afternoon meeting of the school board’s policy committee, taking a leading part in discussions about her long-requested changes in the board’s transparency practices. After committee members agreed to let staff work on the matter before taking formal action, Goldman faced a clump of media representatives eager for details on the break-in, in which she said $130,000 in jewelry, cash and coins was taken, and of her naming of fellow board member Chris Malone as a possible suspect.
“I am here today to do the work of the people of Wake County,” Goldman said.
Malone also told police that he had had a physical relationship with Goldman, a statement she has denied repeatedly.
Tuesday, Malone appeared for an afternoon work session and declined comment, saying he would talk after the Nov. 6 election. Malone, who moved from his normal spot to sit far down the board table from Goldman, is running for a state House seat.
Goldman was also asked about having contacted police about school board vice chairman Keith Sutton after a heated Sept. 25 closed-session discussion on the firing of former Superintendent Tony Tata. Board member Deborah Prickett has said that Sutton told the board’s Republican members that the Democratic majority would “kick your asses” and that he shouted at Goldman to “Shut the (expletive) up.”
Goldman said that when she brought her concerns to an officer assigned to the meeting that she didn’t realize he would file a report.
Sutton, speaking to the media before Tuesday’s board work session, again denied having threatened Goldman. He said the words used by both sides were heated, but he said he would not go into more detail because the discussion was behind closed doors.
Sutton also declined to talk about whether he considered the relationship between Goldman and Malone inappropriate.
But Sutton said the board needs to work beyond the problems to serve the nearly 150,000 students in the state’s largest district.
“I think it has been a big distraction to the work of the board,” he said.
During a break in the meetings, Democratic board member Susan Evans noted that she had not been on the board at the time of the reported burglary. The details in the police report gave her some concern, she said.
“It’s less than appropriate,” Evans said of the situation. “But I don’t think that it’s an ongoing problem.”