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AG's office says it won't remove Ray Gilbert

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

The North Carolina Attorney General’s office will not remove Ray Gilbert from the Brunswick County Board of Education.

On Jan. 9, board members sent a letter to attorney general Roy Cooper asking for a review of Gilbert’s role in office after a one-year domestic violence order was issued against him. The order came after West Brunswick High School secretary Yvonne Hankins accused Gilbert of threatening her after she ended their relationship. Gilbert has admitted to the relationship, although he is married, but denies claims he threatened Hankins.

The board of education does not have the power to remove one of its members, but the attorney general’s office can.

“The materials submitted do not suggest that Mr. Gilbert holds office as a board member unlawfully, nor have I been able to identify any statute which requires the forfeiture of this office solely because of the issuance of a domestic violence order of protection against the office-holder,” Grayson Kelley, chief deputy attorney general, wrote in a letter dated Jan. 24. “This office therefore does not have jurisdiction to take action in this matter.”

Although he is still in office, the board voted on Dec. 14 to ban Gilbert from all school-owned property, with the exception of board business at central office and picking up his children from the carpool lane at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary. The court-ordered DVO previously prohibited him from South Brunswick High, West Brunswick High and Virginia Williamson Elementary.

The board also voted to censure Gilbert on Jan. 4, and said they did not condone Gilbert’s

“inappropriate relationship and issues.” At the same meeting, board member Jimmy Hobbs called for Gilbert’s resignation.

“I would like to appeal to Mr. Gilbert to do what is in the best interest of the children of Brunswick County Schools and step down from the board of education,” Hobbs said at the January meeting.

The Brunswick County Republican Party called for Gilbert’s resignation in December, as did the Beacon.

“Due to Mr. Gilbert’s past conduct and the current allegations against him; we believe, these actions are contrary to the principals of the GOP party and are unacceptable. For the sake of the community as a whole, we believe everyone would be best served if he resigned,” a press release from the Republican Party stated.

Gilbert could not be reached for comment this week but previously told the Beacon he has no intention of resigning. He filed for re-election to the board of education on Feb. 12.

Appeal

On Tuesday, Gilbert’s appeal of the DVO was brought to court. It was continued until March 26.

Hankins’ lawyer Mark Lewis withdrew from the case; Wilmington-based attorney Mose Highsmith will continue as Hankins’ lawyer.

Gilbert was not present but was represented by his attorney, Edwin West.