NHCS parent waits years for answers after reporting sexual misconduct

Roland Grise Middle School. (Photo: Kylie Jones/WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Turmoil continues to brew over alleged sexual abuse in New Hanover County Schools.

One parent shares new allegations and frustrations. She says she reported an incident with her child in 2017, and is just now getting key answers.

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“This is happening way too much,” Laylah Marsh said. “One incident, sure. But multiple and many over a stretch of years, there’s definitely a problem.”

In 2017, Marsh says a cafeteria employee at Roland Grise Middle School started texting her 7th grader, asking for inappropriate pictures.

Marsh says her child came to her after two or three weeks. She says she took the messages to a meeting with school administrators and her child.

“They passed the phone around,” Marsh said. “All of them acknowledged it. They all acknowledged that it was definitely inappropriate.”

After that, Marsh says she never heard another word until she followed up with the principal weeks later.

“I said, ‘How can he still be here?'” she said. “And he said the process was in place and he had notified the appropriate areas, and that it just takes time.”

Marsh says still, she never heard anything more. Then in 2019, she heard the news about former teacher Michael Kelly who pleaded guilty to sex crimes.

“That’s when it dawned on me, ‘Hey I never heard anything back about that,'” she said. “‘I never received any official documentation about what they did with that matter.”

In July 2019, Marsh followed up with school officials about the incident, filing a complaint. Shortly after, she says she got this letter from Superintendent Tim Markley saying the employee no longer worked for the school system, but they had investigated.

“That the school had handled the situation, but they found it not to be any criminal activity,” Marsh said.

Just this week, Marsh says she got another email from the school finally naming that former employee for the first time, and directing her to the sheriff’s office if she had further concerns. But that came too little and much too late for Marsh.

“It just leaves this hole, like how can this be happening with our children?” she said.

WWAY is not naming that former employee since he’s never been charged in the case.

The school board is holding another special meeting Friday at 7:30 a.m.