NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - After the New Hanover County Board of Education finalized graduation plans for students Tuesday night, parents are speaking out.
“They’ve lost proms, they’ve lost banquets,” said Mandi Blanton, whose son is a senior at Ashley High School. "It’s just been very disappointing and I think as parents, it’s been extremely disappointing. Because I mean these are our firstborn sons and we’re not going to get to see any kind of activity.”
Blanton watched the meeting unfold last night and said she was devastated when the board voted against holding graduation ceremonies on the schools’ football fields.
Brooke Sumner says she feels the same way. Her son is a senior at Hoggard High School. She said she watched the entirety of the meeting and said the board didn’t even give the idea much thought.
“The board didn’t listen to the students," said Sumner. "They did not listen to the community. Their fear trumped all of what the seniors’ voices were saying. Their fear of putting people in potentially risky places trumped everything else.”
In the end, the board voted 4-3 against the football field graduation. Board member David Wortman, who spoke to WECT Wednesday morning, was a strong supporter of that graduation plan that was voted down.
“I am extremely disappointed that the other four board members never even considered doing that,” said Wortman. “I believe it’s a safe graduation. We had people speak to law enforcement, the county health office... we were able to provide a safe graduation for those kids at the football field.”
Board members Nelson Beaulieu and Stefanie Adams voted against it.
“I believe this was the right decision, although I absolutely hate it for the students, we are trying to do the best things possible to keep our students, staff, and their families safe," said Adams.
“I believe this is our safest option," said Beaulieu. “I think this is the best compromise solution that we could come up with.”
Sumner says the board should reconsider their decision.
“I don’t expect the board to overturn, to be frank with you," said Sumner. "I think it would show good faith if they would reconsider. My issue is more about the lack of true conversation and opportunity and time that was given to discuss this potential solution, the football field solution.”