'It is a blank check for the school system to make sure our children are safe’: New Hanover County commissioners approve $358,420 request from school board

Updated: Feb. 17, 2020 at 6:25 PM EST
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County commissioners approved a $358,420 amendment to the Board of Education budget, as the school system looks to move past the Peter Frank sex scandal and resignation of Dr. Tim Markley.

Commissioners met Monday at 9 a.m. and unanimously approved the additional funding the school board requested.

The Board of Education asked for the funding to pay for Dr. Tim Markley’s contract buy-out and to hire two title nine investigators, an assistant for the investigators, a professional standards investigator for four months and training for mental health.

Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman said she received a call from school board chair Lisa Estep regarding the request.

“At our last meeting the commissioners were very clear in a 5-0 vote that we’ll give the school whatever resources they need to make sure that this stops, and doesn’t happen anymore,” Boseman said after the meeting. “And so the school chair called me last week and requested two title nine investigators to help with all of the back load of all of these requests that are coming in, so today we approved it, because there’s no price on keeping our kids safe.”

The support from the county comes after the Board of Education fired Peter Frank in a unanimous vote Saturday. Dr. Markley resigned on Feb. 7 without directly acknowledging the Frank case.

Given the frustration expressed by parents about the board accepting the now former superintendent’s resignation instead of terminating his employment, Boseman said she shares that frustration, but believes the board took appropriate action.

“I think that we would all just like to say ‘you’re fired,’ but with that we, the school system chose, to [ask] ‘How can we end this quickest and get us out easiest without a lot of lawsuits, without a lot of dragging people through this anymore?’” she said. “What I wanted to do and the school system wanted to do was we wanted to stop the bleeding and move forward.”

Board of Education members have said they want the next Superintendent to come from outside the school district with experience.

The Board begins interviewing candidates on Tuesday, and Boseman said the commission will be watching those updates closely.

“I think there needed to be changes at the top, and probably on down the line, but that’s going to be up to the new superintendent that comes in," she said. "We are excited to get somebody in place from outside of the system who can come in and straighten this place out.”

Anna Phillips contributed to this report.

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