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One week after chaotic meeting cut short, New Hanover County Board of Education holds virtual Call to Audience

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:58 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The first item of business for the New Hanover County School Board on Tuesday: picking up where last week’s meeting left off, after it was prematurely ended due to a rowdy audience.

The Board of Education began Tuesday’s meeting with a Call to Audience, where the public can address members of the board.

Instead of hearing from the public face-to-face, the board listened to pre-recorded messages from 17 people: a far cry from what happened last week, when 50 people signed up to speak in-person.

After troubleshooting audio issues, the call to the audience lasted less than 45 minutes.

Everyone unable to speak at last week’s meeting had the opportunity to record an audio message to be played at this virtual meeting. Speakers addressed issues ranging from wearing masks at school, to policies about law enforcement questioning students, to the manner in which teachers should be addressing race in the classroom.

Board chair Stefanie Adams acknowledged the chaos of last week’s meeting, thanking the Sheriff’s Office for assistance and saying the board won’t stand for similar disruptions going forward.

“We have an incredibly passionate community which is a good thing; however, passion cannot disrupt governmental processes,” Adams said. “Citizens absolutely have the right to speak to the board, and we want to hear from you; however, we will not allow disruptions to prevent the board from conducting business.”

“Moving forward behaviors demonstrated on July 13 will not be tolerated if meeting attendees choose to engage in disruptive behaviors they will be removed.” Adams said.

The disorder is certainly something not lost on the community either.

Frustrations about the outcome of last week’s meeting showed up in the pre-recorded messages played Tuesday night, as well as complaints about the meeting being held virtually, not allowing people to confront the board face-to-face.

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