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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

DA, Sheriff request SBI investigation into New Hanover Schools, hours after Deputy Superintendent retires

The DA along with Sheriff have requested an outside investigation into allegations against New Hanover County Schools administration. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)
The DA along with Sheriff have requested an outside investigation into allegations against New Hanover County Schools administration. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna Ferebee)

WILMINGTON — Just hours after New Hanover County Schools Deputy Superintendent Dr. Rick Holliday announced his retirement, District Attorney Ben David announced that he, along with Sheriff Ed McMahon, requested the State Bureau of Investigation look into allegations against the New Hanover County Schools administration.

“Last week, I, together with Sheriff Ed McMahon, jointly requested the assistance of the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if there was a violation of any law, including North Carolina General Statute §7B- 301(b) (Failure to Report Abuse or Neglect) and North Carolina General Statute §14-3 (Obstruction of Justice) in the handling of sexual offense claims allegedly brought to the attention of New Hanover County Schools administration,” David said in a press release.

The news comes on the heels of the sentencing and guilty plea of former NCHS teacher Michael Kelly.

According to David, “On June 25, 2019, former New Hanover County Schools teacher Michael Kelly pled guilty as charged, without a plea deal, to fifty-nine (59) separate sexual offenses involving nineteen (19) victims over a more than fifteen (15) year period while he was a teacher at Laney High School and Isaac Bear Early College. During questioning by FBI agents immediately prior to his arrest, Kelly alluded to an internal investigation that the school administration had allegedly performed that Kelly claimed cleared him of any wrongdoing.

“The Sheriff’s Office and my office have been eager to follow up with Kelly about this claim but, because of his right to remain silent, could not do so until his cases were resolved. Detectives with the Sheriff’s Office interviewed Kelly the day after his guilty plea,” he said.

After the initial allegations were launched against the schools, more complaints and similar instances not related to Kelly were brought forward by the public.

“In light of information learned, we requested for the State Bureau of Investigation to conduct an investigation of the school administration’s handling of the Kelly matter. Additionally, the Sherriff’s Office received information from members of the public detailing similar allegations unrelated to the Kelly case. The Sheriff’s Office opened an investigation into these allegations as well but now believes, as I do, that they should be reviewed by outside agents with the SBI,” David said.

An outside investigation is a welcome idea for David.

“Everyone in the community should welcome a thorough review of these troubling allegations by agencies with no local ties. It is my hope that the community will have confidence in the process and see a just conclusion to this matter. Our children and those who care for them every day deserve nothing less,” he concluded.


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