School board votes against naming Laney football field after former coach

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County Board of Education has voted against naming Laney High School’s football field.

In July, the board voted to rename the football stadium Buccaneer Stadium. It was previously named after retired deputy superintendent and former Laney principal Dr. Rick Holliday.

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52% of those responding to a community survey expressed a desire to name the stadium after former football coach Larry Tootoo, but the board opted not to name it after any person, according to policy.

One board member suggested naming the field itself after Tootoo. It has been discussed several times at recent meetings.

On Tuesday, the board voted against naming the field after Tootoo in a 4-3 vote. Judy Justice, Pete Wildeboer, and Stephanie Walker voted in favor of naming the field after Tootoo. Chair Stefanie Adams, vice-chair Nelson Beaulieu, and members Stephanie Kraybill and Hugh McManus voted against it.

Beaulieu explaining his vote following the meeting.

“My interpretation of the policy, and hence my vote, was that we don’t want to be naming things after people,” he said. “The policy states geographic terms, words with special meaning to the given school, and I though the intent of the policy when it was adopted was to make sure that that’s what we were naming facilities after.”

The football field will remain unnamed.

In April 2021, the board voted to remove Holliday’s name from the stadium after a petition gathered more than 4,000 signatures.

Those who organized the petition accused Holliday of ignoring complaints about teachers committing sex crimes against students. Holliday has denied those claims.

The board also voted to make changes to four policies: 2330, 2335, 5070, and 6084.

The board did not discuss COVID-19 or current mask requirements for students, staff, and faculty.

“We discussed it at the September board meeting and we’ll discuss it again at the October board meeting as per state law,” Beaulieu said.

You can watch the full meeting here.