Amid teacher sex crime lawsuit, some upset at timing of Rick Holliday’s retirement recognition

Updated: Jul. 31, 2019 at 4:26 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - After nearly 40 years working in the New Hanover County Schools system, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Rick Holliday has retired.

He was recognized at the district’s annual administrator’s retreat Wednesday at Blair Elementary, but some community members are calling into question the timing of this recognition.

A group of student advocates, including parents of New Hanover County school students, do not think Holliday should receive any sort of recognition given the fact that he is named in lawsuits against the school district.

Six alleged victims of former teacher of the year Mike Kelly have filed a lawsuit against the school system, in part, claiming Holliday knew Kelly was sexually abusing students but failed to report it.

Holliday has not been charged or proven to be linked to any of these allegations.

Reverend Dante Murphy, an advocate for New Hanover County students and their families, said he was disappointed the public or the media were not allowed inside for this occasion.

“Certainly, this is really a sad day in history. Dr. Holliday, after many years of working for New Hanover County schools, is leaving behind a trail of blood and I really hope it stains the moral consciousness of this community to do something, to do more to make sure this never happens again,” Murphy said.

The retreat was opened to the public following Holliday’s recognition

Administrators were invited to wear purple and gold to the retreat, the color of Holliday’s alma mater East Carolina University.

School board member Judy Justice made it a point to not show up to the retreat until after Holliday was recognized.

He was presented with a plaque by the New Hanover County Principals and Assistant Principals association, recognizing his 39 years in the school system.

Murphy said considering the timing and the allegations against Holliday, recognizing him in any way further disrespected the student victims and their families.

“That is what is sad about this day because I don’t think this can ever be made right. And the only thing you can give those victims of child sexual abuse is monetary compensation that will ultimately help in some sort of way to aid them in the process of healing. Their lives have been somewhat damaged eternally,” he said.

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