WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A long time leader in the New Hanover County school district is stepping down amid controversy.
According to a news release from the district, Deputy Superintendent Rick Holliday announced today he is retiring from New Hanover County Schools effective August 1. The announcement comes hours before the school board was scheduled to meet in a special closed session.
“I have enjoyed my time with New Hanover County Schools. I have always done my best. As I plan to retire, I wish the citizens of New Hanover County well,” Holliday said in a news release.
According to the release Holliday has been an educator for 41 years and has served the district for 37 years in various capacities, including several years as principal at Laney High School.
Holliday’s resignation also comes less than a week after former New Hanover County teacher Michael Kelly pleaded guilty to dozens of child sex crimes. During Kelly’s sentencing, prosecutor Connie Jordan said the case covered victims as far back as 2003, when Kelly taught at Laney. Jordan also said that Kelly told the FBI last year that New Hanover County Schools had conducted an investigation into an allegation that he had exposed himself to a student at Isaac Bear Early College High School.
Following the sentencing the district issued a statement refuting Kelly’s claim. The district said it spoke with the women who served as principal at Isaac Bear in 2006 and 2007. The district says both women said they never knew or investigated such a claim against Kelly.
The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office says it is investigating allegations of how the school district handled various complaints from students and parents. Among Holliday’s duties were serving as the district’s Title IX coordinator responsible for handling sexual abuse allegations.
Holliday has not responded to calls for more information.
Late this afternoon District Attorney Ben David announced that he and New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon had requested state investigators look into the claims against the school district to avoid any conflict of interest.
“The district intends to cooperate with any investigation by law enforcement on this matter,” New Hanover County Schools spokeswoman Valita Quattlebaum told WWAY in an email this afternoon. “I can tell you that Dr. Holliday decided to retire on his own and was not asked to step down.”
Quattlebaum said other questions WWAY posed can not be answered until after the law enforcement investigation is done.