by Dr. Terry Stoops
Former Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
With 18 victims and counting in the criminal case against Mike Kelly, the WECT Investigates team looked into what local schools are doing to screen educators before they are hired, and what they do to police teachers once they are in the classroom.
The scope of the crimes Mike Kelly is accused of is particularly egregious, but he’s not only local teacher to run into serious trouble over the years. WECT Investigates found more than two dozen teachers from our five-county viewing have surrendered their licenses or had them revoked for inappropriate behavior.
Michael Supak was one of them. The 37-year-old Hoggard High School football coach was arrested in 2012 accused of taking indecent liberties with a student. Two years later, his teaching license was revoked after he was convicted of a lesser charge.
North Brunswick High School Band Director Mark Riel pleaded guilty to sending sexually explicit text messages to a student in 2011. The 38-year-old had his teaching license revoked the following year.
The case involving Brunswick County teacher Leah Shipman made national headlines.
In 2009, 39-year-old Shipman was charged with statutory rape of a 15-year-old student. Prosecutors dropped the charges against her when she married the student in 2011. He was still a minor, but got parental consent to wed his former teacher.
The criminal case fell apart because, under North Carolina law, a husband does not have to testify against his wife.
Pender County teacher Glenn McIntyre had his license revoked in 2009 for accessing pornography on a school computer.
Whiteville City Schools teacher Chance Bryant had his license revoked in 2011 for inappropriate behavior with students.
There is no record of a teacher in Bladen County ever having their license revoked.
Some of the other offenses are less clear. Pender County teacher William Heath had his license revoked in 2017 for “unprofessional behavior in the classroom;” and Columbus County teacher Nathanial McCoy voluntarily surrendered his license in 2018 after it was discovered he’d falsified documents when applying for a teaching license.