Joseph Democko, center, reads his resignation letter Sept. 13 during the Wayne County Board of Education meeting.

The vice chairman of the Wayne County Board of Education resigned during a regularly scheduled Sept. 13 meeting to take care of his ailing mother in New York.

“This will necessitate my presence in New York regularly for an unknown length of time, and due to these circumstances, I feel I must relinquish my position on the Wayne County Board of Education as of Oct. 1, 2021,” Joseph Democko said during the meeting.

Democko has served on the board since 2018.

Chris West, board chairman, and other board members wished Democko well and thanked him for his service.

“I appreciate your voice of reason on the board, and I’ll just say that our prayers are with you and your family, and I wish you the best for your mom, and I appreciate your service, sir,” West said.

Also during the meeting, after providing a COVID-19 update, Marcia Manning, Wayne County Public Schools assistant superintendent of student services and innovative programs, announced her retirement.

Manning said Sept. 14 she has dedicated much of her life to the advancement of student learning.

“During this time, my family made many sacrifices in support of my career and my efforts to help every student have the tools and support to be successful academically,” Manning said. “While it was a difficult decision to retire, I am looking forward to the time I now get to spend with my husband and the time we are going to take to visit our children and grandchildren.”

She also praised current and past WCPS administrators who have supported her professionally and the Wayne County Board of Education for allowing her to serve Wayne County public school students and families in various roles since 2016.

Manning was hired by WCPS in July 2016 as the innovative schools coordinator, after leaving N.C. New Schools where she served as an education innovation director training principals in school reform, education leadership and academic best practices, said Ken Derksen, WCPS communications and public information officer.

During her time in Wayne County, Manning also worked as the interim principal of Goldsboro High School from July 2017 to July 2018. In July 2018, she was named the district’s director of secondary education and innovative programs.

In 2019, she was named executive director of student services and innovative programs. In January 2020, she was named assistant superintendent for student services and innovative programs, Derksen said.

Manning has more than 32 years of education experience, including 13 as a principal of Columbia Middle School and Columbia Early College High School in Columbia, North Carolina, Derksen said.

Manning holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in science education, a master’s degree in school administration and a doctorate degree in educational leadership from East Carolina University.

Manning’s last day is Sept. 30. Her ending salary is $123,600.

Before announcing her retirement, Manning provided her final COVID-19 update.

She said 97.2% of COVID-19-positive cases have originated from outside WCPS and that 456 COVID-19 cases were contracted outside of WCPS between Aug. 6 and Sept. 13.

“We’ve learned a huge amount about diagnosis, treatment, symptoms, etc.,” Manning said.

Manning said classrooms are safe, largely thanks to masking and social-distancing protocols.

“By and large, in the overwhelming majority of our classrooms, the distancing and the masking is protective,” Manning said. “We believe that about 40% of the people who have COVID never have symptoms, but we know that they can transmit COVID, so if they’re distancing and masking, then we’re always protected from those people, even if we don’t know that they have COVID.”