Friday's New Hanover County School Board meeting started out behind closed doors. The purpose: to draft a statement on why former Williston Middle School teacher Jessica Wishnask had been suspended twice during the fall semester of last year. Draft after draft, the board debated for three long hours. Finally, a two paragraph statement links Wishnask's two suspensions to one student. The first suspension came after Wishnask was found behind a locked door with the boy, now fifteen. The second time, she was seen at a sporting event with that same boy after she had been warned to stay away. The first investigation found no evidence the two had sexual or physical contact. According to the report, the second investigation proved the young boy had approached the teacher. "The suspensions are not a punishment policy, what we do is we suspend individuals with pay, when issues arise,” said school board chair Edward Higgins. According to the school board, Wishnask was given a recommendation to teach in another county based on her performance as a teacher, but the question remains as to whether that recommendation was appropriate. WWAY spoke with officials at Pitt County Schools where she taught after Williston. They said they only recently learned of her suspensions, two weeks ago, after her initial arrest. Still, the school board defends their investigation process. "The investigation itself, I think, was pretty detailed. Numerous people were spoken to, and as a result of the investigation, I don't know that a further investigation would have come out with anything different," Higgins said. We have learned from sources that students and faculty observed Wishnask behind closed doors with other students as well, but the school board did confirm that her personnel filed contained multiple complaints from other teachers about inappropriate behavior while at school.
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