The New Hanover County Board of Education voted 4-2 to dissolve the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Committee at their December board meeting.
The EDI committee met earlier this week to discuss the future of their work. Committee chair Republican Melissa Mason opened the 90-minute conversation looking for feedback from the group.
“What I really wanted to do was sit down and get your recommendations, get your concerns, get your thoughts so that I could bring them to the board.” Mason continued, “I will still share your ideas as your ideas because this is your committee not just me.”
Fellow committee member and board member, Democrat Hugh McManus, accused Mason of becoming the chair of the EDI committee just to destroy it. “You were placed there to implode EDI and you knew that from the beginning,” McManus said. He then called for Mason to resign as the chair of the committee, which she did not do.
Mason signed an “Education Over Indoctrination Pledge”, during her campaign that states she will “Remove 100% of CRT, SEL, EDI, and Woke Indoctrination from the curriculum and administration.”
Board member Pat Bradford, a Republican, summarized the meeting with disappointment, stating, “I came, and I saw, I was very disappointed. I was appalled. I saw no appreciation of diversity of thought, I saw no inclusion, I saw a great deal of hate.” she continued, “After what I saw and heard last night, I am not in favor of continuing this committee I will vote to disband it.”
After motioning to disband the committee effective January 1st, 2024, Melissa Mason expressed sentiments similar to her colleagues. She remarked, “I did not feel respected despite that I sat, and I listened, and I took notes. I did what I’ve been doing for the past year.”
Mason justified the dissolving of the committee by highlighting that the essential work of EDI is already being addressed by the district’s committees focused on exceptional children and academically or intelligently gifted individuals. Additionally, she pointed out existing support systems for multilingual learners and military families within the district. Mason emphasized that the committee’s efforts were duplicative, as the outlined duties of the district already encompassed the work being undertaken by the now-disbanded committee.
In September, the board narrowly voted to temporarily limit access to the book Stamped after parent concerns that it is educationally unsuitable as a nonfiction, pervasively vulgar, or inappropriate to the age, maturity, or grade level of the students. The book is going through existing school district protocols that had been circumvented.