NC Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson vows to correct ‘mistake’ on ethics filing

WBTV investigation found Robinson didn’t disclose wife’s charter school role
WBTV investigation found Robinson didn’t disclose wife’s charter school role
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 9:38 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson said this week that he would amend his 2023 Statement of Economic Interest to include a position his wife holds on the boards of several charter schools.

Robinson’s pledge to do so comes after a WBTV investigation found the lieutenant governor had failed to disclose his wife’s role, as required by law.

Robinson’s wife, Yolanda Hill, sits on the boards of three North Carolina charter schools: American Leadership Academy North Carolina, American Leadership Academy – Monroe and American Leadership Academy – Garner.

Hill joined the boards in the spring of 2022, paperwork filed with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction shows.

The schools are overseen by their boards but are or will be operated by an Arizona-based company called Charter One, according to contracts filed with NCDPI.

The operating structure of the schools—overseen by a nonprofit board but run by a for-profit company contracted to manage the schools—has been a sticking point for some members of the N.C. State Board of Education.

Board of Education members have twice voted to not approve the charter of American Leadership Academy-Monroe.

In paperwork filed with NCDPI, Hill said she “was asked to join the board by Charter One.”

Minutes of the two meetings where the board voted to not approve the charter applications show Robinson recused himself from both votes and recused himself from the discussion surrounding the vote during the second meeting.

The N.C. General Assembly has since passed a law implementing a new Charter School Review Board—on which the lieutenant governor would sit, in addition to other members appointed in part by Republican legislative leaders—to handle charter school approvals.

Governor Roy Cooper vetoed the bill creating the new review board. It was overridden by the General Assembly in August. Robinson was presiding over the Senate on August 16 when the bill was overridden.

Even as Robinson recused himself from the votes to approve the charter school where his wife sat on the board, he did not disclose her board seats on his 2023 ethics filing.

Robinson filed a ‘no change’ form, indicating there were no changes since the last time he filed the full form.

A spokesman for Robinson originally scheduled an interview with WBTV for Robinson to answer questions for this story but cancelled the evening before the interview was set to take place.

Instead, the spokesman sent the following statement:

“Transparency and ethics are a top priority to Lt. Gov. Robinson. That is why he recused himself from relevant Board of Education votes and discussions from the very beginning of the American Leadership Academy’s application process. It is also important to note that his wife serves in a volunteer capacity on their board and receives no compensation in that role. This is nothing more than an honest mistake that we are working to correct as soon as possible.”