New Hanover mom drops bombs about district's "gender support form," lack of transparency, sexual assault lawsuits
Mom and former Miss USA 2005 Chelsey Cooley spoke out on the Daily Wire's Candace Owens Show
On a recent episode of the Daily Wire’s Candace Owens Show, a New Hanover County mom spoke out about the district dodging providing a copy of a survey that was being given to her child as well as the district excluding parents through the use of a “gender support plan.”
That mom is Chelsey Cooley, former Miss USA 2005 and the segment of Owens’ show featuring Cooley can be viewed on Rumble.
Cooley describes the run-around she experienced from her school and administrators in the district while trying to obtain a copy of a survey that was going to be given to students including her child.
The district’s Title IX Coordinator Jarelle Lewis responded to one of Cooley’s requests, essentially denying her access, by writing that “Unfortunately, we are not able to provide a copy of the survey to you directly.” Lewis then bizarrely invites Cooley to come to the central office where an administrator can show it to her and refers her to view a video of a meeting where the school board “approved” the survey.
I feel Cooley’s pain on this. Back in 2019, I went through a similar incident in Wake County when a Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) ‘survey pilot’ hit my son’s middle school. The principal at the school, Keith Faison, literally stonewalled me and refused to give me a copy of the survey. I finally got a copy from the district’s communications office survey and found out it was the “BIMAS-2” and that it involved teachers using the “best judgment” to assess students using a very invasive set of criteria.
Later in the episode, Cooley also touched on the various lawsuits against the New Hanover County School board tied to the sexual assault scandals that have continued to plague the district. One active civil suit against the board involves the case of Michael Kelly, who pleaded guilty in June 2019 to over 60 felony sex-related charges involving New Hanover students that spanned over a decade.
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Going back to the “gender support plan” mentioned by Cooley, this item is real and it was discussed during an Oct. 19, 2020, meeting of the New Hanover County Public Schools (NHCPS) Title IX committee.
Finding the video of the Oct. 19 meeting on YouTube was difficult, as NHCPS’ YouTube channel does not have the date listed in the video title as it does with other meeting videos. The video below begins with the relevant conversation about 10 minutes in and the form itself comes up around the 20-minute mark.
The meeting is led by Lewis and around 20 other individuals including some school board members were present.
Lewis describes the gender support plan to “accommodate student requests,” and the form he came up with, which he claimed to have pulled from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and had adapted for K-12 use.
During the discussion of the gender support plan, Lewis claims the district doesn’t have to involve parents if the kid in question is in high school.
One attendee asks Lewis a question about how he is handling parents who are unaware of a student’s “accommodation request” since FERPA says parents should have access to their student’s information.
“It’s going to be on a case by case basis,” Lewis said.
Lewis went on to say that sometimes “school is the only environment where students feel comfortable to be themselves even if a parent might not agree,” and that “parents have FERPA rights” and to “raise their children how they see fit” but that the age of the student makes a difference in what the parent is notified about.
“So, depending on the age and the type of accommodation requested, will depend on the level of parent involvement,” said Lewis. “For example, [for] an elementary student, we’re going to have to refer to what the parent is requesting. But for example in a situation where a high school student wants to have an accommodation regarding their name in class or something such as that would not necessarily need or precipitate any type of parental involvement from that end.”
A copy of the gender support form is included in the Oct. 19 meeting minutes. The form, captured below, is followed by an “NHCS FAQ on Transgender and Non-Binary Student Support (NC Law)” describing how students can bypass their parents and legal guardians to change how their school addresses their “gender identity.”
Related reading: A Parents’ Bill of Rights for North Carolina