Looks like administration for North Carolina Governor Patrick McCrory (R) will have to appoint a new director to oversee the state Department of Health and Human Services' pre-kindergarten division. Their former pick for the position withdrawn amid pressing questions about her background.
Appointed Tuesday, Dianna Lightfoot was set to begin her new position as the director of the Division of Child Development and Early Education on Feb. 11. However, controversy surrounding her personal opinons on pre-K education, along with several partisan comments she made on social media networks, may have led to her decision to step down on.
While Lightfoot has refused to officially comment or respond to interview requests, DHHS spokeswoman Julie Henry issued a statement about Lightfoot's resignation Thursday, explaining that Lightfoot said she did not want to be a "distraction to the department."
Indeed, Lightfoot's resignation, which comes merely two days after her appointment was announced, opens the door to questions about the McCrory administration's hiring practices and the comprehensiveness of any background checks conducted. After all, Lightfoot's background was picked apart by reporters within a day of the announcement.
Local station WRAL was the first to report that the newly appointed pre-K chief had a history of opposing pre-K. As the founder and president of the National Physicians Center for Family Resources, Lightfoot signed an open letter that criticized early childhood education programs, advocating instead for in-home learning.
"Universal preschool appears to be yet another one-size-fits-all approach offered by bureaucrats for what may be a non-existent 'crisis,'" the letter concludes.
In addition, Lightfoot's public statements on Facebook and Twitter -- from calling Hillary Clinton "butch," to communicating with prominent anti-gay Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa -- have spawned a blog that documented her contentious opinions.
The Tumblr was regularly updated with screenshots of the Lightfoot's Twitter feed and Facebook profile, before many of the posts were deleted from her accounts sometime on Wednesday. Lightfoot has since deactivated her Twitter account.
As News-Record writer Travis Fain notes: "[I]t apparently didn’t occur to her, or anyone else in leadership at DHHS, that the time to delete Twitter accounts and otherwise scrub one’s Internet history is before a hiring announcement, not after."
Lightfoot's voter registration has also been brought up as a point of contention. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, the address of the only Dianna Lightfoot registered to vote in the state belongs to a UPS store, rather than an actual residence as required by Board of Election rules.
McCrory has been mired in his own controversy this week, after he lashed out on Tuesday against the "educational elite," a group that he said have taken over colleges. The right-leaning governor is under fire for criticizing college courses that, as he puts it, offer "no chances of getting people jobs."