Women Organizing for Wilmington holds #MeToo support group for parents of New Hanover Co. students

Updated: May. 21, 2019 at 9:49 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Woman Organizing for Wilmington (WoW) formed a #MeToo group for parents to share stories of how they say they’ve been victimized in the New Hanover County school system.

The support group for those parents met Tuesday at the Foxes Boxes.

Lynn Shoemaker, who founded WoW, says the group provides a safe space for parents to share stories, look for resolution and bond about their experiences.

“We have had therapists here," Shoemaker said. "When we first started, there were a lot of tears and sharing of stories but now it’s bonding and empowering and looking for solutions.”

She said several parents feel betrayed by the school system and that their complaints aren’t being heard or consolidated like they should be.

Ultimately, they want to be genuinely acknowledged for their concerns.

“To finally be willing to say, I want restitution, even it’s just an apology for being ignored or not having what my complaint was validated," Shoemaker said. "It’s really important to victims and we have a serious sense of systemic institution of betrayal right now.

“We’re dealing with victims, student victims, and then we’re dealing with parents who have also become victims, so it’s a two-tiered problem we’re confronting here.”

In December 2018, Reverend Dante Murphy of the Southern Coalition for Equal Protections under the law asked the NHC school board for an independent investigation of cases of sexual misconduct over the past 15 years. He said “in the midst of trying to do good ... the administration failed students."

Michael Kelly, a former NHC teacher, is facing 59 sex crimes charges involving close to 20 victims, some as young as 14.

NHCS spokesperson Valita Quattlebaum says each case is reviewed carefully and is handled based on the district’s policies, procedures, and all applicable laws.

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