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New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Resigns After Public Outrage Over Child Sex Abuse Cases

New Hanover County Schools Superintendent Tim Markley is stepping down.  Friday afternoon, school officials announced his resignation and separation agreement after a nearly-six hour closed Board meeting followed by a unanimous vote.  

The Board also voted to give Tim Markley $195,000 in severance pay and almost $33,000 in benefits.  The settlement ensures a quick separation, according to school officials, avoiding future court proceedings or additional legal fees.

Markley served as Superintendent for a decade.  But in the last several years, school administrators have faced growing public outrage over multiple allegations of sexual abuse by teachers against children.  Michael Kelly, a former Isaac Bear teacher, pled guilty last year to 59 counts of child sex crimes.  Nicholas Oates of Myrtle Grove Middle School died in jail while awaiting trial for the alleged assault of a student.  The most recent case:  Roland-Grise band teacher Peter Frank faces a dozen charges of sex crimes against kids. 

School officials also laid out multiple measures to help protect children – including increasing funding for surveillance, an online reporting form, and the Say Something app. 

Markley issued a statement Friday afternoon pointing to his accomplishments – including the Spanish and Mandarin Chinese Immersion programs, the creation of a vocational school, and the highest graduation rate in the district’s history. 

Markley’s resignation is effective immediately. 

February 7, 2020 Statement from NHC Schools:

New Hanover County Schools separates from superintendent, shares updates


New Hanover County, NC - At an impromptu press conference after the special meeting of the New Hanover County Board of Education meeting today, the Board announced the separation of superintendent Tim Markley, effective immediately. 

“Today, the school board has approved a resignation and separation agreement for Dr. Tim Markley,” said Board of Education Chairperson Lisa Estep. “The Board believes that separating from Dr. Markley is the best solution to move this system forward.” 

A severance of $195,000, plus $32,966.66 in earned benefits and accrued leave as required by state law, will be paid to end the contract. The entire separation agreement can be found attached. The agreement and severance ensures a quick separation, avoiding future court proceedings or additional legal fees. 

Dr. LaChawn Smith will continue to serve as the system’s deputy superintendent. The Board will meet next week to determine steps in naming an interim superintendent.  

New Hanover County Schools also announced that Peter Frank has been suspended without pay as of January 29. State law dictates a specific process for dismissing a teach with career status and that process will take a few weeks.  

New Hanover County Schools has met with the Sheriff’s Office and county officials to begin using additional support and resources made available by the Board of Commissioners Monday, including two investigators for concerns related to Title IX, harassment and bullying, as well as an assistant for recording and filing of all complaints. 

The school system has also requested funding to add cameras for increased surveillance of school hallways, corridors and stairwells. 

Efforts to increase awareness and prevent misconduct, as well as access to 24-hour anonymous reporting of complaints and concerns are ongoing:

  • The Ethix360 online reporting form and the Say Something app allows students, parents and teachers to report any and all concerns. These reporting mechanisms have been rolled out over the last several months and provide tracking and accountability, ensuring all complaints and concerns are addressed and handled quickly and consistently. 

  • “Darkness to Light” training for staff helps prevent, recognize and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse. Approximately 400 staff have been trained already, and all staff who interact with students will be trained by the start of next school year.

  • “Shifting Boundaries” for grades six through nine will help students understand boundaries and behaviors that are not acceptable.

  • “Bringing in the Bystander” for grades 10 through 12 will bring awareness to the realities of relationship abuse and sexual assault, and how as a bystander you can help create a healthier community and support your peers. 

  • Education for Kindergarten through fifth graders will be implemented in partnership with the Carousel Center. 

The New Hanover County Board of Education and New Hanover County Schools are committed to ensuring a safe space for students, comfort to their parents and a safe working environment for our teachers and staff.
To view a copy of the Chairperson’s full statement, click here.



Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 4 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.