Sunday, August 14, 2022

No. 2 Most Read Story of the Year — ‘A battle zone’: New Hanover school board recesses amid uncontrollable audience, one person detained

Board member Nelson Beaulieu and Superintendent Charles Foust chat at a board meeting in July after recessing due to an unruly crowd. (Port City Daily/Alexandria Sands Williams)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — The New Hanover County Schools Board of Education meetings have drawn in multitudes of people and even protests throughout 2021. People flocked to meetings to speak out on a litany of hot-button topics — masking protocols, critical race theory, transgender athlete rights, sexual abuse cases, suspensions, etc.

In July, as the board opened the meeting for the first time since Covid-19 limited in-person attendance, 170 people packed the room, most dropping their face coverings despite being asked to remain masked. Many spoke out of turn, heckled board members, tried to hand off their allotted speaking time to others, and laid the foundation for a contentious meeting.

“This is not a battle zone,” vice chair Nelson Beaulieu said earlier in the night, as the atmosphere was beginning to turn ugly. “This is a board of education meeting.”

The meeting was stopped early, without the board addressing agenda items, and rescheduled to a later date.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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