‘A systemic problem’: Second lawsuit against NHCS aimed at changing district culture

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The second lawsuit filed against the New Hanover County Board of Education is putting even more pressure on the school district.

The second suit from Rhine Law Firm, was filed against former Roland Grise Middle School band teacher Peter Frank on behalf of two of his alleged victims.

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Over the summer, the law firm filed its first lawsuit against the school board and former teacher Michael Kelly, who pleaded guilty to dozens of sex crimes involving his students.

Attorney Joel Rhine says during the investigation of Frank over the past few months, more victims of Kelly joined their first lawsuit. The suit has been amended several times since it was first filed, including an amendment just last week which brought the number of victims involved to 10.

Rhine says the purpose of this new lawsuit against Frank and the school board is to put an end to the alleged sex abuse in the district, calling it a “systemic” problem.



“If you’re making phone calls to the Superintendent,” Rhine said. “If you’re having conversations with the Title IX Coordinator, none of that works. The only thing that can cause a change in behavior is a lawsuit like this, because nothing else has worked. There have been elections, there have been new people put in. Nothing has changed.”

The firm is seeking a class action certification on behalf of all of Frank’s alleged victims. Rhine says it’s still possible that more victims will join the suit.

“It’s those other kids that are afraid to come forward,” Rhine said. “This lawsuit will empower them to come forward.”

Rhine says the goal of these lawsuits is to provide the victims with some sort of monetary compensation in order to get the resources they need to recover from past abuse.