Tensions rise during New Hanover County school board policy committee meeting

New Hanover County School Board discusses ethics policy
Published: Jun. 20, 2023 at 6:28 PM EDT
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - The behavior and ethics of New Hanover County school board members are getting a closer look. The issue came up in a committee hearing after media reports of some board members being accused of discussing issues behind closed doors.

Board member Pat Bradford called the accusations false about her and other board members meeting in secret to talk about school issues. She said the members talked about personal issues and nothing related to school matters.

Following the meeting, Bradford said that she was surprised that the code of ethics showed up on the policy committee agenda, saying that she believes all board members should want to follow the rules.

“It’s written, it’s all spelled out. We’re talking about violations of the code of ethics. No one here who swore that they would uphold this code of ethics should have any problem whatsoever, saying they don’t want to violate them,” Bradford said during the meeting.

Hugh McManus, who usually doesn’t attend policy committee meetings, showed up at today’s meeting so he can express his thoughts on the code of ethics policy changing, which he wasn’t in agreement with.

“It bothers me that we’re going here and I do think, as I’ve said before, it’s an attempt to shut disagreement, those who do not agree down.”

Stephanie Kraybill also commented about the policy change during the meeting and what she hopes it will accomplish.

“I want to make sure that whatever we do with this policy, that we are pretty clear on what we consider our outline as unethical because there’s a lot of stuff that we all might have to introspectively look at what we’ve done... I just think that if we’re going to go down this road, and put these ‘take away my graduation requirement’ that’s not a privilege. We have many other policies, so if we change this policy to include all of those things, we’ve got several other policies that we’ll have to come back to and change.”

Although the accusations were discussed in today’s policy meeting, no changes to the policy were made for that reason. The committee did approve some changes related to a change in the North Carolina School Board Association advisory board’s ethics policy.

The next step is for the board’s attorney to go over the changes, then the revised policy will be discussed by the full school board in the next meeting.

After the meeting, none of the committee members would go on camera to talk about the policy changes.