Johnson: Outside Investigation Of School Board Member Needed

A screenshot of Tracie Zukowski in a June 2020 school board online meeting.

Johnston County School Board member Ronald Johnson said Tuesday he believes an outside independent investigation is needed into allegations former school board member Tracie Zukowski moved from Johnston County yet still participated in meetings and obtained a salary.

Zukowski resigned Jan. 27, 2021 saying she had moved outside of Johnston County.  Since the announcement, there have been questions raised about exactly when Zukowski moved from her home on Running Springs Court in the Taft Woods East Subdivision near Clayton to Brunswick County.  Some contend Mrs. Zukowski has not been a resident of Johnston County since August 2020 but still participated in school board meetings.  Public records indicate she voted in Johnston County elections and cast her one stop early ballot on Oct. 17, 2020 in Archer Lodge.

Today, Mr. Johnson released a statement saying he welcomed an investigation and would fully cooperate.  He also weighed in on who he believes should be appointed to Zukowski’s unexpired term.

I was first notified Tracie was resigning on Wednesday at 4:07pm. I do not communicate with her outside of open meetings. If I knew of any issue regarding her residency, I would have definitely told the public. I have a history of publicly announcing indiscretions and unethical conduct. Say what you want, but my record speaks louder than any gossip, social media post, or sidebar conversation,” Mr. Johnson said.

“In my opinion, Mrs. Antoine hits the nail right on the head. I admire her courage to stay involved and come forward for a second time. She is doing the public a service and she deserves our thanks.”

“I am not accusing, or absolving, Mrs. Zukowski of any wrongdoing as far as the residency requirement. However, this matter definitely needs to be looked into by an outside investigative entity. I’ve been notified of an ongoing investigation regarding other matters and this is something else that certainly needs to be looked into thoroughly,” Mr. Johnson stated.

“Hypothetically, it does not seem fair or right to obtain a benefit under the false assertion you reside in Johnston County. It is certainly not ethical. It also does not seem right to know about a false assertion where someone is obtaining a benefit or thing of value, and not say anything or aid this person in covering it up. Again, it is certainly not ethical. If you knew, and did not say anything, you should resign too.”

“I am hopeful and welcome of any investigation regarding this matter. I will be 100% cooperative with an outside entity and hope the other board members will do the same.”

“Sadly, people are willing to overlook unethical activity so long as an elected official agrees with them on a single issue. It is extremely disheartening to know people are willing to abandon standards based on one vote. For example, it does not matter to some groups, or individuals, whether or not a person is of sound mind and good conduct as long as that person votes the way the group or individual sees fit,” Mr. Johnson added.

“As far as Terry Tippett is concerned, I agree it is logical he would be the next in line to take her vacated seat. There was a precedent set for Todd when he lost in 2016 and was appointed. However, justification is a powerful tool and I rarely talk to my colleagues so we will see what happens. I know who I personally want on the Board of Education, but the will of the people should never be circumvented no matter what justification you can conjure up.”