New Hanover County Schools to hold Title IX committee meeting; members vow transparency

One school board member says it’s time for the district to take a step back and see what it can...
One school board member says it’s time for the district to take a step back and see what it can do better when it comes to Title IX. This, ahead of the New Hanover County School System’s new Title IX committee meeting Thursday afternoon.(WECT)
Published: Mar. 7, 2019 at 2:05 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - One school board member says it’s time for the district to take a step back and see what it can do better when it comes to Title IX.

New Hanover County Schools’ new Title IX committee meeting is scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Title IX is a policy created to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or federally funded activity.

The meeting comes as the school system is facing several complaints about the mishandling of alleged cases of sexual misconduct. According to school board member Nelson Beaulieu, the committee was formed in part in response to those complaints but he said the idea came up a while ago.

“I didn’t feel like our Title IX policies were very clear," Beaulieu said. “I don’t think they were stated on our website. I feel like in the era of #MeToo, where we’re more attuned to the needs of students who have been through something like this, our county needs to be at the forefront of this.”

Most recently, the board declined a request for an independent investigation into how the school system handles concerns about allegations of sexual misconduct, including the case of Michael Kelly, a former high school teacher facing dozens of charges for sex crimes against students.

The committee’s goals are to create a new, transparent Title IX policy that’s easy to understand, and implement training for all faculty members by the 2019-20 school year.

“We’re not doing a good job informing our students or our faculty of what they need to do if they have a Title IX situation," Beaulieu said. “I don’t think it’s really clear, and by law, it needs to be. It has to be stated.”

The 21-person committee is composed of principals, teachers, a rape prevention educator, coaches and top administrators, among others. According to Beaulieu, administrators and board members chose the committee members, who he says are all needed to discuss the topic. They hope to add one or two students after the first meeting.

According to parents who’ve filed complaints against the school system, some of those top administrators shouldn’t be on the committee because they say they’re named in those complaints.

Clyde Edgerton, one of those parents, said he feels like school leaders swept complaints under the rug.

“I hope the new (school) board realizes that and makes changes, and has a Title IX committee which has some parents and students on it, but not the same people who’ve been bottlenecking complaints and giving untruths to the public,” Edgerton said.

Regarding those top administrators being involved, Beaulieu said the school system’s leaders have to be involved to implement new changes. He said if mistakes were made in the past, everyone needs to know how to implement Title IX properly.

“Every single person on that committee is going to have a vital role moving forward in implementing Title IX the correct way,” Beaulieu said.

The meeting is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Thursday at the Board of Education building in Wilmington.

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