School board holds regular meeting amidst mounting scandals


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — New Hanover County school board members met Tuesday for their regular meeting. The meeting was preceded however by a special meeting.

This all comes just over a week since the abrupt retirement of deputy superintendent Rick Holliday and the District Attorney’s announcement to seek the SBI’s help in investigations towards district officials. All of it stems from the guilty plea by former Isaac Bear and Laney High School teacher Michael Kelly.

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“I wish the board had listened,” said Lynn Shoemaker, who along with others, alerted the school board to issues of handling complaints related to sexual assault.

In a news release on July 1 District Attorney Ben David said he and Sheriff Ed McMahon asked SBI to investigate whether there was a violation in law, including the handling of sexual offense claims allegedly brought to the attention of New Hanover County Schools administration.

“Our focus is on whether anyone employing Kelly knew of his behavior and should bear any responsibility,” wrote attorneys with two local law firms announcing private investigations into school official on Tuesday. “Many of our clients are reliving their injuries as a result of recent news coverage. Victims are still coming forward.”

Shoemaker says much of what’s happening now; the media coverage, the multiple investigations, and the victims weighing their options of a lawsuit, all could have been avoided.

“I really wish that the board had listened to us seven months ago when we asked them to investigate what was going on,” said Shoemaker.

WWAY’s Andrew James requested Superintendent Tim Markley comment on the recent actions of Holliday and the DA’s office, but he declined to comment. Chair Lisa Estep did share a message for parents.

“What you have to keep in your heart are the victims in all of this,” Estep said. “We’re going to work hard in any area that we need to work hard in, and again the bottom line to me is the safety of our students.”

No votes or decisions came out of the closed session from the special meeting.