Defining diversity on the school board - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Defining diversity on the school board

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – The New Hanover County Board of Education welcomed two new members Monday night, while saying goodbye to two others. Before Lisa Estep and Tammy Covil joined their five fellow Republicans, outgoing members Elizabeth Redenbaugh and Dorothy DeShields shared some parting words for the elected leaders.

The departure of DeShields leaves the board without an African American presence. She said after the meeting that she's concerned that the board no longer has someone like her to provide insight and experience from a different culture during board meetings.

"There's nobody like me that's going to sit at the table," she said.

After two terms on the board, DeShields reflected on words she first heard as a young educator that ‘it's tough being the only anything.'

"It is, and sometimes the sensitivity is not there," she said. "All kids need to feel like they're a part of what's happening in the classroom."

Newly re-appointed Chairman Don Hayes said Tuesday night that the board will continue to be a diverse group of individuals. When Hayes first joined the school board in 1994, he said everyone carried different opinions even thought they were all Republicans.

"Has there been a difference of opinion as far as redistricting programs – yes," said Hayes. "But I still think you represent all the children in this county – black, white, whatever and I think we'll continue to do so."

With her parting words to the board, Redenbaugh warned about what she considers the segregation of students because of the neighborhood schools initiative.  

"Regardless of intent, segregation was wrong 50 years ago, and it remains so today," Redenbaugh said.

To that, Hayes said he would like to know how Redenbaugh defines the term segregation.

"We don't have any segregated schools in this county," said Hayes. "We have children attending schools that are the nearest to their homes." 

The school board will meet next week for a work session to discuss future projects and planning.

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