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NHC Board of Education meets virtually, covers several important agenda items

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:14 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The highly anticipated New Hanover County Board of Education meeting resumed Tuesday night after last week’s meeting was cut short when the audience got out of control.

There were a lot of important items on the agenda that the board was not able to get to before the meeting was cut short during the call to the audience, including several policies up for first reading.

Policy 5120

One that has caught the attention of parents in the county is Policy 5120, which defines the district’s relationship with law enforcement.

Under criminal investigations, the revised policy points to the Memorandum of Understanding in place between the district and law enforcement.

Those with concerns about this policy say the way it’s written gives investigators the option to not call a child’s guardian. The worry is the legal system is too confusing for young children -- and they may not know their rights in an interrogation or search.

When some of these concerns were brought up, Vice Chair Nelson Beaulieu stressed that the MOU and the language within it was unanimously approved in June and that it “addresses all of these issues very, very clearly.”

N.C. Social Studies Standards

The board also heard a presentation on the North Carolina Social Studies standards that will roll out this upcoming school year.

Some of the biggest changes: there will be the inclusion of an inquiry-based standard, which essentially helps teach children how to be critical thinkers.

There will also be what’s called underrepresented voices curriculum standards. This means the voices of women, people of color and indigenous populations will be represented more than they have in the past.

In elementary school, the biggest change is for 2nd graders. That grade went from a global focus to a foundational American History focus.

There were not a lot of changes at the middle school level.

At the high school level, civics and economics has been divided into two courses: civic literacy and economics and personal finance. This was done in an effort to improve students’ financial literacy.

There have been concerns voiced by the public that the new curriculum includes what is being called critical race theory, or CRT. Doctor Charles Foust addressed these concerns. He said that many individuals have made blanket statements using CRT.

“So what has happened is individuals have chosen to put everything into critical race theory — that’s not — and call it a name. It’s not critical race theory,” Foust said. “Is there reference of slavery in history? Yes. Is there reference of injustices in the history books? Yes. Are we teaching critical race theory as it’s written at the collegiate level and at the — when you’re getting your JD? No.”

Dr. Foust also said that anyone with concerns that CRT is being taught may provide the subject, course or lesson plan and they will investigate it.

Laney High School stadium renamed

The board voted to rename the stadium Buccaneer Stadium. It was formerly named after Dr. Rick Holliday, but his name was removed after thousands signed a petition.

During the August meeting, the board will discuss naming the football field after Larry TooToo, which is the name that received the most votes from the public. TooToo coached football at Laney for many years.

Mask requirement in schools

Board members voted to follow the Governor’s order requiring masks in schools.

The board will monitor the state’s order and this topic will be revisited July 31

Additional agenda items

The board tonight also approved a motion to start a request for proposal to start looking for alternative options for legal services.

Another item of note under Old Business is ‘Legal Services.’ There are no attachments on the agenda for this item, so it’s unclear specifically what the board plans to discuss.

Last Tuesday, discussion of a transparency committee was approved to be added to the agenda as well.

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