A Craig County judge has set a hearing for Aug. 28, to determine the validity of an additional 14 signatures on a petition to impanel a grand jury to investigate the president of the Welch School Board.

 On June 9, a group referring to themselves as “Welch Citizens Allied for Responsible Education” (WE CARE), filed a petition to have school board president Dennis McCord ousted from office.

 The petition came after a number of complaints by parents and school faculty alleging McCord's “unprofessional” and “bullying” behavior.

On July 24, the group delivered 544 signatures to the court clerk requesting that McCord be investigated for abusing his position. The Craig County election board determined that 54 of the signatures were invalid, leaving the petitioners 12 signatures short of the required number needed to impanel the grand jury.

“The addition of these 14 signatures will exceed the threshold,” said Tyson Wynn, a spokesperson for the group. “Thus clearing the way for the judge to continue with the grand jury process.”

 Trudy Hankins, who has been vocal in her concerns for the school district, was in Chicago when she learned of the hearing.

 “We are confident that when the judge looked at the evidence he would grant our motion,” Hankins said. “We're not really sure why the election board refused to revise its tally when these 14 persons are undeniably registered Craig County voters. We're thrilled, however, with the judge's order and we look forward to the hearing so that every person who signed the petition can have his or her voice heard.”

 McCord's attorney, Erik Johnson, could not be reached for comment, but he has been adament that he will fight the group to the top of the judicial ladder. He indicated in an earlier interview that his client would appeal an order to set a grand jury.

 “Mr. McCord has been voted into office by Craig County residents for over two decades,” Johnson said. “He will continue to serve the school board as long as the voters keep electing him to do so.”