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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Two months into her new job, NHCS's first Chief Equity Officer retires

New Hanover County Schools district administration office on Carolina Beach Road.
New Hanover County Schools district administration office on Carolina Beach Road.

Dr. LaChawn Smith has worked in the New Hanover County Schools district for over two decades. In January, she became NHCS's first Chief Equity Officer. This month, she submitted her retirement request.

Smith was hired in 1998 as an assistant principal at Williston Middle School and worked her way up through the district, taking over the Deputy Superintendent position in 2019 after Dr. Rick Holliday abruptly resigned amid allegations surrounding his role in failing to report former teacher and convicted child abuser Michael Earl Kelly.

In November, 2021, NHCS confirmed Smith would be the district's first Chief of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion — a new position created at the recommendation of educational consult Sophic Solutions, which had performed an equity audit of NHCS. Smith officially stepped into the role on January 6.

Related: NHCS chooses new Chief Equity Officer, continues equity contract with Sophic Solutions

Smith worked closely with Sophic Solutions, but the consultants' contract was terminated effective the end of January, despite the objectionsof NHCS staff, teachers, EDI committee members.

NHCS confirmed Smith's retirement but did not respond to a request for comment, replying only, "LaChawn Smith has submitted her retirement effective May 1, 2022, upon approval of the personnel report at the next regular scheduled Board of Education meeting." WHQR also reached out to Smith for a comment, but has not yet received a response.

Smith's current annual salary is $142,402.20, which was apparently also her salary as deputy superintendent.

WHQR asked NHCS on Tuesday afternoon if the district would now search for both a new Chief Equity officer and a new Deputy Superintendent. This article will be updated with that information when it is received.