‘We don’t feel like they are safe:’ Commissioners offer support teams, mental health counselors to New Hanover Co. schools

‘We don’t feel like they are safe:’ Commissioners offer support teams, mental health counselors to New Hanover Co. schools

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County commissioners voted Monday on a motion to extend their support, and the help of the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, to the school board.

Roland Grise Middle School band teacher Peter Frank was arrested last week for 12 felony sex crimes involving his students. Detectives say the charges stem from his conduct with six different female victims.

Frank is the third district employee charged with sex crimes involving students in the last two years.

Monday night, the county announced they’re offering support teams to help conduct personnel investigations at all public schools and teams of mental health counselors to work with students, teachers, and families.

“I want my kid to be safe. I want everyone’s kids be safe. Grand kids, nieces, nephews, whoever. They should be safe at home and they should be safe at school. And we don’t feel like they are safe, so we’re going to give them whatever resources they have to be safe. And also to deal with the emotional problems that they could be having. We will send in social workers, will send in whatever resources the school board needs to stop this problem and keep it from happening again," New Hanover County Commission Chair Julia Boseman said.

The school board will have the option to approve the proposal and grant the teams access when the board meets on Tuesday.

“We want our kids safe," said Boseman. "Here’s deputies. Here’s money. Here’s social workers. We want our kids safe and we’ll give you whatever resources you need. We’ve got your back.”

New Hanover County Chair Julia Boseman formally issued the following statement Monday night on the recent allegations and ongoing issues within New Hanover County Schools:

“In light of the most recent allegations against a New Hanover County Schools teacher and systemic, ongoing issues within our school system, the Board of Commissioners has been in regular contact with the school board letting them know that the county is ready to support them in any way possible.

So at today’s meeting, the county announced that we will provide support teams to aid in personnel investigations at all public schools. We are asking the school board to approve the county’s proposal and grant our teams access when they meet tomorrow, so that we can examine where things stand regarding any open or prior complaint about school personnel that involves inappropriate student contact.

The county has three teams ready that include investigators from the Sheriff’s Office who are focused on crimes against children and forensic social workers that specialize in child abuse and neglect. These teams are specially trained to examine these types of situations and, once approved and requested by the school board, they will begin their work. The county has also committed to provide resource support of school-based mental health counselors to support immediate needs and long-term assistance for students, teachers, and families. The county will also ensure that our school system is aware and utilize the community’s rapid crisis response program to support families based on the need.

This issue is of utmost importance to all five of your Commissioners, and we will do everything we can to ensure our children are protected and safe. We believe that a thorough investigation with the right support services – and then an ongoing protocol and policy that ensures this never happens again – is necessary.”

Commissioner Woody White says the latest case is a result of a systematic failure.

“That angers me. And it should anger everybody in this community,” White said. “This is a systematic failure. It is not one person’s fault, it’s everyone’s fault. So I hope soon we will hear more from our school system.”

“Look under every rock," said Boseman. "It’s time. It’s past time and I’m disgusted that it’s happening. And it’s happened again and if there’s anything the commissioners can do about it, we are 100% unified in whatever amount of money it takes to keep our kids safe.”

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