Congressman Cawthorn Headlines JCPS Board Protest

On stage, right to left, 11th District US Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Robby Starbuck of Tennessee and Bo Hines of Charlotte, candidates for the US House in 2022.

SMITHFIELD – Dozens of people gathered Tuesday for a march and protest at Johnston County Public Schools Central Office on Highway 70 East. The event corresponded with today’s meeting of the Johnston County Public School Board.

Citizen Advocates for Accountable Government (CAAG) and JCPS Parents for Freedom organized the event.

Dale Lands with Citizen Advocates for Accountable Government (CAAG).

US Congressman Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) from the 11th District, Bo Hines of Charlotte, a candidate for the US House 13th District, and Robby Starbuck a US House candidate from Nashville, TN were the main speakers.

CAAG founder Dale Lands said, “We are here today with support from a Congressman, and the parents in the County, we are here to protest the mask mandate, vaccine mandate, all attacks on personal freedom, and because they don’t have a CRT policy.”

Joe Preston announced he would be a candidate for the Johnston County School Board in 2022.

Lands said he hopes the gathering gets the attention of school board members. “I hope they get the message we are their constituents. We put them in office. We expect them to vote the way we expect them to do as a county. Everybody has the right to wear a mask and get vaccinates, and the right to teach kids anything they want to at home. It just doesn’t need to be done in the school system.”

Lands called it a fight between good and evil. “We must win this fight now. It is bigger than the school board, county commissioners or the NC legislature. Move Johnston County back in the right direction.”

Aurora Preston, a South Johnston High teacher, who was disciplined after refusing to wear a mask in her classroom. She later resigned from her job.

Kevin Donovan, organizer of the JCPS Parents for Freedom group, said, “What we are trying to do is show the Board that the decisions they are making do not line up with their constituents in the county. The vast majority want something different and they are not willing to listen, or provide open dialogue, between parents and the school system and the board of education. We want to let them know they are being watched and being held accountable for the decisions they choose.”

Donovan said the school board is also failing to address other “big ticket” items within the county including the lack of teachers, teacher pay, the student-teacher ratio, and overcrowded classrooms.

One protester said Johnston County Schools is facing a civil rights crisis that is not been addressed by the school board. They said 28 percent of African American students and 31 percent of Hispanic students in JCPS can’t read at grade level.

Joe Preston, whose wife Aurora Preston a teacher at South Johnston High School, was disciplined for refusing to wear a mask in her classroom, announced he would be running in 2022 for the Johnston County Public School Board.

Several counter protesters held signs objecting to the those wanting to end the mask and vaccine mandates.

During the outside gathering, a moment of silence was held for victims of 9/11. A separate moment of silence was held for school board member Terri Sessoms whose husband died recently.

Lands encouraged attendees to support candidates with conservative values during the 2022 elections.

A number of officers from the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office were present inside and outside the Central Office during the protest and board meeting.


  1. Hey Robby,

    How about the next time there’s a bad storm you go send your kid out to stand in the middle of a field? We nominate you to test out your theory about the chances of being struck by lightning. I’m sure your kid won’t feel anxious about possibly being hit by lightning, right?

    This isn’t Tennessee. Stay in your own state.

  2. When has the school board ever allowed anyone to speak for 45 minutes on financial matters? This board is showing their arrogance has no limits and wants you parents and taxpayers to know your place is outside in the 90 degree heat. Wonder if $180-K-Carroll is going to send Dr. Parker his $180,000.00 tonight or not? How do you like the JOCO School Board tactics now parents and tax payers? The Teachers Union School Board is showing that they are in control and not none of you tax payers or parents!!!

  3. One thing that gets me is there is never conversation about the custodians and cafeteria workers. They are overworked and understaffed. They help keep the schools clean and feed these children. Sure they don’t teach classes but they stop to help a kid stay safe and feed. We love these kids and we love our jobs.
    Just my 2 cents

  4. Folks here is $180-K-Caroll and the Teachers Union Board members plan to shut down anyone getting a chance voice their freedom of speech to this board. Did you happen to hear how $180-K-Carroll wanted all the principles of each school to come to these meeting and give a presentation to how they are going to make their school improve? That is code for we are going to stack these meeting with the ones we want to hear from and the public that wants to comment can cook outside in 90 degree heat. I also have a feeling we have three Johnston County Commissioners that are in full cooperation to help with this! Yes those commissioners are married to Teacher Union Teachers and the other commissioner rents commercial property from one of the other two that are married into this Teacher’s Union. $180-K -Carroll has a plan to shut down your free speech!!! Only the mostly peaceful-partly violent protesters are welcome to speak at Johnston County School Board meeting!!!

    • With all due respect, you were more than welcome to stand outside in the 87000 degree heat on the surface of the sun from 10 am on to ensure your voice was heard like I did.
      Instead of showboating a politician on the back of a pickup truck like some sort of bizarre Four Seasons Landscaping press conference meets pickup trucks on the White House lawn, you should have pulled yourself up by the bootstraps and put your energy where it mattered. Speaking INSIDE the meeting.
      To quote Madison himself, “Cry harder.”
      The only violence I encountered was from the outside instigator hollering about communism while trying to trip me and muttering move sheeple under her breath when I entered the room. She was a piece of work…claimed she was running for Congress…can’t find evidence of her anywhere…screamed like a schoolgirl and got removed after Madison talked. Very fine people….

  5. Has anyone ever seen $180-K-Carroll ask so many serious questions to slow walk this meeting and to keep the public freedom of speech shut down? Does anyone have any questions on $180-K-Carroll tactics to shut down free speech now?

  6. This is interesting. Is anyone taking into account the children under 12 that can not be vaccinated and the only line of defense is a mask mandate? Freedom of speech/ or your right to choose is great- but what about protecting our children. If you do not want a mask mandate, or a vaccine mandate- what is your solution for this issue? It’s obvious some feel they know more than the CDC and the Doctors and Nurses in the ICU, that are dealing with those who “choose” not to follow Covid guidance, everyday. Let’s stop making this a “political issue” and make it a “human issue”. You can not just complain and disagree without offering a feasible and alternative solution to the ultimate issue, and that is protecting those who can not protect themselves. Mask are an inconvenience, but other than that, what is the real issue with wearing a mask? Are you saying that your freedom of choice is more important than the children’s lives?
    Staff shortage has always been an issue that has plagued Johnston County Schools. School Bus Driver shortage has always been part of the fall out from that shortage, for the fact that Classified Employees are required to be a “Dual Employee” which means that they serve as an employee in the school and as a driver. Majority of School bus drivers have always been Cafeteria Workers, followed by Teacher Assistants and IF lucky there are Driver Only’s; Custodial Staff we’re often used as Sub Drivers because most worked an 8 hour day. This year, the pay became slightly competitive with other counties for the first time in over 5 years. Unfortunately, the issue lies with the way the State requires employees to be paid by Grade/Years of Service. This is an out dated system that needs to be re evaluated and employees need to be paid for the position/ job performed (much like state employees). I share this to inquire as to why the County Commissioners and the School Board is being attacked, when they are only a part of a process in which they have no control?
    In conclusion, take a breather and educate yourselves on the bigger picture and the processes with in our County and State Government. Focus your right to advocate, to those who can actually make systematic changes. It can not happen on a county level without a change on the state level. It is simple Civics, and Physics… Everything flows downhill. Love your fellow neighbor, and support your community rather than dividing it.

    • Hey friend. Masks are proven to not work by the person (Fauci) who is pushing their mandated wearing. For that reason alone they are more than an inconvenience. They are a symbol of oppression. In that same document he noted that the masks hardly protect from the virus and if you already have the virus, the mask will incubate and colonize the virus strengthening it and you will continue to inhale it. The problem with people like you is you don’t actually care. You tell others to be kind but you yourself are not kind. You don’t bother consider the other side because you are afraid of the reality that you are being lied to and are too afraid to stand up. So you just do what you are told and passive-aggresively bully others so you’re falsehoods aren’t illuminated. I get it, you’re tired and you just want life to be normal. Well, you will never get your normal again if you don’t fight for it like these “dumb Republicans”.

      You are the problem, not the people who know basic biology and understand fundamental virology, both of which require a 6th grade education. So many doctors scientists have come out against the vaccine attempting to warn people of how dangerous they are but they are immediately censored and most of them have lost their careers for it. NATURAL IMMUNITY is stronger than the vaccine.

      I wish you all the best, but if you can’t come to the conversation with facts (not the virtue-signaling shame and guilt trash you gobble up on social media and CNN/FOX/MSNBC ETC.), stay out of it and let the rest of us save this country.

      BTW children are dying from the vaccine. Maybe you should go look up some videos of grieving parents to get a better perspective.

  7. This School Board has $104,000,000.00 of federal money they have to spend by 2024 or they have to give it back to the Feds. Parents and Johnston County Tax Payers that not including the dump trucks of local Tax Dollars that Johnston County Chairman Chad Stewart along with Mr. Wood and Mr Tony Braswell still wants to hand over against Mr. Fred Smith’s good idea of not handing it over until they take a stand against CRT. Folks of all political sides, with this kind of big free money do any of you think that corruption is not only just around the corner?

  8. Tax Payers and Parents ask yourself this question and keep in mind of human behavior and have a open mind? How many family relatives, friends and business contacts that are associated in some shape, form or fashion that have access to these board members on both of these Johnston County Board’s? Now ask yourself with $104,000,000.00 of federal money that has to be spent, how many of these board contacts at this moment are creating new consulting businesses and other services business to help hall out over $100 million dollars before the 2024 deadline? I am not saying anyone is doing anything wrong yet, but let’s keep a eye on how much of this $100 million dollars goes to companies or businesses that will be less than a few years old?

  9. I am embarrassed to be apart of the Joco community. We literally are a laughing stock by those who have heard about this anti-maskers circus they put on. Literally they had a stage and shouting from a microphone. There are so many better things to be out there protesting. Children wearing a mask is not it! Bringing in politicians who don’t even live in the area, is insane. Including one who is a danger! Cawthorn literally is a disgusting human. Why not protest for all the woman who have come forward for sexual assault?

    I find it hilarious Aurora Preston claims she was reprimanded for not wearing her mask. No, she ADMITTED she did not want to wear her mask, and opted not to work. Her husband then started a Go Fund Me to help with their bills. Really? So you want a hand out because you want to refuse to work and follow the rules. What a wonderful role model. Funny though last year she had no issues wearing a mask per her students.

    • Agreed. A complete circus. A teacher who quits because idiots of the internet have funded her to sit on her can all day instead of teaching our youth. Politicians looking to make a name for the themselves not even from our county coming here to make headlines and a bunch of morons hollering ignorantly about freedoms while not understanding health nor caring to.

      It is completely embarrassing. I grew up here, still live here. And I am embarrassed by what the loudest among us are doing to drag the rest of us through the mud.

    • You’re exactly right. It’s embarrassing to be around some of these idiots. They’d rather their kids suffer in the name of freedom than take some responsibility and help those around them.

  10. I think those of you who are making a big deal out of wearing a simple mask are going to be really disappointed when the schools require your children to have this vaccine.

  11. Oh Durwood I do so believe you, when the County Commissioners approved the 72.5 million dollars for this school board and now they set on a $104,000,000.00 of extra free money it going to get ugly. Watch how the contracts goes out to businesses that have been newly created and are no older than a year or two?

  12. What a joke. Put on the dam mask and move on. Of all the things to fight about, to stand up for, this is what is chosen? What about school improvements, competitive teacher and staff salary, school improvements, improved curriculum. These Spreadnecks and Hawthorn and the America’s got talent street magician need to go home.

  13. So sad, some of you sit there and call anti-maskers dumb but you don’t even know that your lord and savior Fauci claimed in DOCUMENTED research that masks barely protect you from getting a virus and if you already the virus the mask will incubate and colonize the virus through the condensation of your breath, making it Eexponetially stronger. Let’s not forget at the very beginning of the pandemic he said masks don’t work and then changed his mind once he got his reprimand.

    “Just shut up and wear your mask!” Spoken like true KGB-in-training.

    Keep watching your mainstream news stations as they force feed you fear, guilt and shame and false statistics. Keep bullying others because you’re afraid to stand up for yourself.

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