Update 8:30 p.m. — Professor Clyde Edgerton’s response has been added to this article.
WILMINGTON — The New Hanover County Board of Education has suspended Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley without pay in response to a complaint filed by UNCW Professor Clyde Edgerton.
The Board issued a suspension without pay for five days, “to be served on five consecutive Wednesdays beginning on November 6th, 2019,” according to New Hanover County Schools (NHCS) spokesperson Valita Quattlebaum, who noted the information was being released to the press with Dr. Markley’s permission.
Edgerton filed his complaint on August 9, 2019, concerning allegations that Markley contacted his employers at UNCW in an attempt to curtail his behavior, including speaking out against issues at NHCS.
Read more about the issue here: UNCW professor accuses New Hanover superintendent of intimidation, asks for Markley to be ‘fired or asked to resign’
According to a document provided by Quattlebaum, “On August 9, 2019, Dr. Edgerton filed a complaint, which alleges that between December 19, 2018 and August 9, 2019, Superintendent Tim Markley ‘intimidated’ Dr. Edgerton and attempted to abridge his right to free speech by speaking to Dr. Edgerton’s employer(s) ‘regarding my protected speech.’
“The Board finds evidence to substantiate the allegation that Dr. Markley violated board policy by contacting Dr. Edgerton’s employer to discuss the exercise of Dr. Edgerton’s speech rights. The investigation did not find that there was, in fact, any evidence that Dr. Edgerton’s speech rights were actually impacted by the contact. Because the remedy requested by Dr. Edgerton involves a request to take personnel action, the Board is limited in disclosing any personnel action that may result from this Investigation. (G.S. $$115C-319-321),” according to documentation provided by the Quattlebaum.
Edgerton issued a statement on the board’s ruling Wednesday night:
“The suspension of Tim Markley for intimidation is a small but important victory, a small light that shines on a New Hanover School system full of talented people, but with an administration long used to getting away with intimidation of teachers, employees, and parents. The school board’s action brings comfort to students who are wondering whether or not to report bullying–and to teachers, employees, and parents wondering whether or not to file a written complaint about intimidation. As investigations into this school system continue, the possibility of repair, healing, and resolution for victims of sexual abuse, racial discrimination, and intimidation will increase.”
In a phone conversation, Edgerton added he believed that Markley’s attempts to silence him by contacting two of his superiors at UNCW happened in April, when the superintendent learned Edgerton was traveling to Rock Hill, South Carolina. Edgerton went as part of his efforts to investigate Deborah Greenwood, the former principal of Forest Hills Elementary who presided over the controversial Spanish Immersion program’s ‘First Come, First Serve’ policy.
Edgerton’s trip ultimately generated new information — including an email in which Greenwood suggested Markley had ‘thrown her under the bus’ by laying blame for the program on her. Greenwood suggested the administration, including Markley, had not been honest about the situation.
This is a developing story and will be updated with additional information, including any comment from the board and/or Dr. Markley, as it becomes available.