NEW HANOVER COUNTY — An anti-bullying speaker who uses motorcycle shows to spread his message will return to schools in New Hanover County.
The county school board voted 4-3 on Tuesday to allow Dane Britt to continue performing, minus the motorcycle stunts. Judy Justice, Hugh McManus, Stephanie Walker and Pete Wildeboer voted for the motion; Stephanie Kraybill, Stefanie Adams and Nelson Beaulieu voted against.
“Some people would call last night a victory,” Britt said. “Guess that’s a win in the sense that we can keep the show going, right?”
The New Hanover County School Board halted Britt’s shows in April 2021 and told her not to continue until further notice. Britt claims the problems started after she posted a video of a performance at Murrayville Elementary School on her armory’s Facebook page.
Britt owns DB Guns & Ammo and uses her social media to promote safe gun ownership and training. He occasionally posts videos of his performances to raise donations, which funded the shows through 2020. Britt spun off the act into a nonprofit, Stunt Shows for Kids, at the end of that year.
According to Britt, school administrators asked her to delete the post to avoid any perceived relationship between the school and the armory. He said he wouldn’t take it back.
Then problems arose with the school board’s insurance policies, Britt said. The board does not have liability insurance to cover any accidents that may occur during Britt’s stunts. Members were still debating the requirements of the policy at Tuesday’s meeting.
Children’s stunts typically combine music, parkour, and motorcycle tricks, intertwined with messages about respecting others, being kind, standing up for friends, and building supportive communities. Britt performs in the Tri-County area and has booked all the way to Raleigh.
Previous performances show Britt and his team occasionally jumping off motorcycles on people, doing one-wheel tricks, and asking performers to do parkour jumps on bikes. The children watch several meters behind a steel barrier.
“The difference and the impact we have on the kids every time I do the motorcycle show versus every time I do the music show is extremely noticeable,” Britt said.
He said it’s already “watered down” enough that some high school and college kids don’t think it’s cool anymore. Before the total ban on motorcycles, Britt said he got rid of drifting and reverse, and switched to smaller bikes to make his show as safe as possible.
“It’s a lot of cheesy stuff, but we have fun with it and make sure the kids have a lot of fun with it too,” Britt said. “It will be the same message. It’s just that the ship changes.
A former New Hanover County Schools student, Britt transferred to the Pender County School District after being bullied at MCS Noble Middle School. He said the abuse he suffered led him to develop unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as female circumcision, and to this day he still has nightmares about how he was treated. in his early youth.
For the past ten years, he has been trying to prevent other generations of schoolchildren from suffering a similar trauma. He said his relatability and ability to speak to children without shaming them is key to connecting with his audience.
“You can take all that negativity that’s thrown at you and you can be a bitter person for the rest of your life, or you can find a way to turn it into something positive,” Britt said.
He explained that motorcycles are an exciting tactic intended to inspire children to pursue their dreams.
“As soon as we start a motorcycle and the noise hits them, they feel for the first time what most people have never felt before,” Britt said.
The position of some board and staff members is that the schools are not insured should an accident occur during one of Britt’s performances. After closing it, the council asked Britt to increase his liability insurance, which he did.
“I complied with all requests,” Britt said. “We got all the assurances we needed to get.”
Still, council attorney Colin Shive claimed the system would not be covered by Britt’s policy and would not be protected from a lawsuit in the event of an accident. Clive said he didn’t know if an injured person could file a claim under Britt’s insurance.
“If Mr. Britt and his company had liability insurance, they would be protected, but the school system is not protected in any way. The school system would not have insurance for any claims,” Shive said.
Under Britt’s $3 million commercial liability insurance policy, it lists New Hanover County Schools as an additional insured party. The purpose of adding the system was to protect the school system from lawsuits; anyone wishing to file a complaint would be directed to Britt’s policy.
(Port City Daily sent a request for a response to Clive on Friday, but the publication did not respond.)
The school board also said it could not afford to purchase an insurance policy.
Council members Beaulieu and Adams suggested the conversation was futile as council has yet to pass a balanced budget.
“We talk about what’s best for the school system, and we’ve spent more time during budget season trying to find special insurance with money we don’t have,” Beaulieu said.
Board member Justice suggested that parents be asked to sign waivers to attend the show, as they would for field trips. Board members and Shive have warned that this option may be asking too much of parents.
“We can’t wrap children in cotton,” Justice said. “Our children need role models outside the box. [Britt] is a good model.
Several council members said their concerns were not personal against Britt, but rather an effort to protect students and the school system.
Britt said other schools outside of New Hanover County continue to reach out; it gives eight times more shows this year compared to 2021.
“There’s never been another time in the history of this thing that I’ve done so many shows or had so much desire for them,” Britt said. “So it’s like there’s a silver lining with everything.”
Contact Brenna Flanagan at [email protected]
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