New school board members to take on COVID-19, sex scandal

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — There is focus not only on national and state races, but several county races in the Cape Fear.

Three seats on the New Hanover County School Board were up for grabs.

The board has faced turmoil over the last year, plagued with a district-wide sex scandal and now COVID-19.

Stephanie Walker, Stephanie Kraybill and Hugh McManus have unofficially clinched the open seats, bringing some new blood to the board.

Walker grew up in New Hanover County Schools, and now has kids of her own in the school system. As a first-time board member says she’s ready to tackle some of the controversial issues at hand.

On Wednesday, she addressed the need for a cohesive board and transparency, something many families have voiced concerns over.

With personal experiences of her own, Walker says handling the alleged sexual abuse in the district is something she’s committed to.

“I think a lot of people forget that the children are at the heart of this issue, and they are the most important thing, because they need the most protection,” Walker said. “So, I feel like, I’ve kind of described it in an interesting way. We need to really get in there, and we really need to see what we’ve got and what’s coming, because there might be more things that we don’t even know about, that’ I’ve not been privy too. I imagine we’re going to go through a few more things, and I hope we can do it in the most transparent way as we can.”

Walker also discussed concerns about learning during the pandemic and safety for students and teachers. She said it’s hard to tell exactly what will happen in the coming weeks, but says she’s focused on the safety of not only students, but teachers in reopening schools.

She also acknowledged a concern over equity in education.

“I feel like we’ve got gaps we need to close,” she said. “We need to support our students, especially our students in high poverty schools. That’s very important to me.”

Again, results are still unofficial as mail-in ballots keep coming in over the next eight days.

Bill Rivenbark, who has been on the school board, was just elected to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night. It’s unclear at the moment how his seat will be filled.

Categories: Local, New Hanover

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