A report produced by the Southern Coalition for Equal Protections Under the Law (SCEPUL) accuses the New Hanover Public school system of the cover-up of sexual abuse cases and racial discrimination.
According to an article by Kaily Tracy of WECT, the report filed by SCEPUL includes six specific cases that span a 15 year time period.
Case One alleges that in 2015 and 2016, administrators of a Spanish language immersion program “hid evidence of racial discrimination in an enrollment program.”
Case Two is tied to Case One and involves an employee of the district who claims that after she complained, she was “blocked from being officially heard by any official or board member.”
Cases Three through Six are all accusations that the district swept sexual misconduct by staff/teachers under the carpet and actively protected the perpetrators while attempting to silence or discredit accusers.
In Case Three, a family reported a sexual assault at one of the district’s high schools. According to the family, the attackers were protected while they were “harassed” by the district. The family also claims officials from the district suggested that the victim change schools if they did not want to receive an in-school suspension.
Case Four is a story reported on by this website multiple times. It involves former New Hanover teacher Michael Kelly.
Eight victims of Kelly have been identified so far with ages ranging from 11 to 17.
Kelly has been charged with 9 counts of indecent liberties with a child, 24 counts of indecent liberties with a student, and nine other sexual-related offenses that include five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and a count of statutory sex offense.
Case Five involves the case of Nicholas Lavon Oates, which was also reported on by this website.
“They allowed him to resign in order to protect his ability to secure employment with another school system and seal his record from public scrutiny,” former New Hanover County Board of Education member Tammy Covil wrote on her Facebook page following Oates’ arrest. “Had they fired him, they would have had to disclose the fact that he was sexting a child. If NHCS had not swept this under the rug, the 14-year-old he just raped may have been spared.” (WECT July 14, 2018)
Oates had been sexting with a child about the size of his own genitals, however, somehow local law enforcement decided that those texts did not break the law.
Oates was suspended for a time by the district, but after being let off the hook would then go on to rape a 14-year-old child.
Oates was indicted on 24 counts that included four counts each of Indecent liberties with a student, Sexual activity with a student and Second-degree kidnapping, five counts of Indecent liberties with a child and seven counts of Statutory Rape of a child under 15.
In an update to Oates’ case, he died in November 2019 of liver failure while awaiting trial.
Case Six is an example of what is known as ‘passing the trash’, whereby a school or district allows a problem teacher to resign and go to work somewhere else without reporting their troubling and potentially illegal behavior to the State Board of Education.
According to SCEPUL’s report, another teacher was allowed to resign in 2009 despite the documentation of “intimacies with a student.”
That teacher, according to the report, went to work in Pitt County Public Schools where they went on to commit statutory rape.
The SCEPUL report does not name names, but a case involving one Jessica Bailey Wishnask matches the description in their report.
According to the article by WRAL, Wishnask was caught not once, but twice in as many weeks having sexual contact with a minor.
A former teacher in New Hanover and Pitt counties was arrested Thursday on sex charges involving a 15-year-old boy for the second time in two weeks.
According an arrest report, a police officer caught Jessica Bailey Wishnask, 27, having “intimate contact” with the boy in a 2003 Pontiac Grand Am parked at 200 N. Fifth St. in Wilmington at 3:49 a.m. May 23.
According to the NC Teacher Revoked License and Discipline page, Wishnask was convicted in 2010 and her license was auto-revoked.
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