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New Hanover school board will reconsider equity and diversity training contract with Sophic Solutions

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Initially approved as discretionary spending by Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust last February, the company's contract was later renewed through June 2022. The company performed an equity audit for the district and is currently providing additional training.

The New Hanover County Board of Education will vote on whether to retain its contract with education consulting company Sophic Solutions at its interim meeting next Tuesday.

Board chair Stephanie Kraybill confirms that the board has notified Sophic of its plans to discuss and vote on the contract.

Superintendent Dr. Charles Foust initially engaged last February for $17,000 to perform an equity audit. Based on that report, the district created a new position — Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — and later hired Deputy Superintendent Dr. LaChawn Smith to fill the role.

Foust extended Sophic's contract in July to provide roughly $26,000 worth of additional diversity training — that contract was slated to run through June of 2022. The cost is considered discretionary spending, as it is well below the $300,000 threshold for spending without board approval — however, the board retains the right to review any contract.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature.