Education

NC superintendent: Halifax school board 'dysfunctional'

Posted August 11, 2015

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— The State Board of Education had no choice but to take over financial management of Halifax County Schools, state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said Tuesday, calling the local school board "dysfunctional."

State Board Chairman Bill Cobey sent a letter Monday to the Halifax County Board of Education to inform them of the move, saying the board was "unable or unwilling to make sound financial decisions in order to sustain a financially viable school district."

The state has been working with Halifax County Schools under a court order since 2009 to improve student performance there. Atkinson said that students are showing progress but that the school board has become an obstacle to further improvement.

"We believe, without some sort of direct intervention with adult issues in Halifax County, Halifax County will not be able to sustain the progress they have been making over the last few years," she said. "Sometimes, the board has difficulty distinguishing what is the role of making policy versus telling a teacher in the classroom or principal that, 'You do not need to listen to leadership. You just take your orders from me.' That's dysfunctional."

Annual teacher turnover in the district is 25 to 29 percent, she said, making it difficult for students to have consistency in the classroom.

"We are concerned too many teachers are leaving because of interference from board members," she said. "We are always starting over, and we want to have a stable environment for the teachers and principals in Halifax County so they will want to stay in Halifax County and continue to help children."

The district has until Aug. 21 to turn all district- and school-level budgets over to Atkinson. State officials would then have the power to adjust the budget as needed to meet the instructional needs of various schools.

"Without some intervention, we are very skeptical there will be money to last the entire year to educate the children," Atkinson said.

Halifax Superintendent Elease Frederick declined to comment on the state takeover until she has had a chance to speak with Department of Public Instruction officials. School board member Claude Cooper also declined to comment, and other board members couldn't be reached for comment.

In addition to financial control, the State Board of Education will have final approval on all new hires in the school district. Also, all high school students will be required to enroll in the North Carolina Virtual Public School for any course required for graduation if the district doesn't have a qualified teacher for the course.

Atkinson said the unprecedented state intervention will continue as long as necessary to ensure the district is headed in the right direction.

"We, first and foremost, are concerned about the children of Halifax County. They deserve an opportunity to learn," she said. "We do not want adult issues that will not move Halifax County forward to continue to be in the forefront. We want children and teachers and principals to be in the forefront of all decisions made."

7 Comments

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  • Tom Boswell Aug 12, 2015
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    Look up dysfunction in the dictionary and Wake County School Board is mentioned. This school board has been dysfunctional for as long as I can remember. It is disgusting that politics plays a major role in children's education. You have in the same family children off in the summer and another going year round. One child can walk to school and the other gets bused across town for "economic diversity". You had one member accusing another of threatening her. The Chairman unexpectedly resigns his post and the one accused now becomes chairman. In less than a year the members kick out the chairman accused of the assault and will not explain why. As soon as the Democrats gained control they fire the newly appointed by the Republicans superintendent. With all this being said we have now with the last election giving this group a blank check with voting for a complete Democratic Wake County Commissioners and School Board.

  • Caitlin Stevens Aug 12, 2015
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    Shocked, Shocked I tell you !

  • Caitlin Stevens Aug 11, 2015
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    It's dysfunctional because the board members are illiterate.

  • Caitlin Stevens Aug 11, 2015
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    Shocked, Shocked I Tell You ! Just look at the make-up of the Halifax County school board and then it's easy to understand why it's so dysfunctional.

  • Tom Boswell Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    The Halifax School Board is dysfunctional!!! The Wake County school board has been dysfunctional for as long as I can remember. It is disgusting that politics plays a major role in children's education. You have in the same family children off in the summer and another going year round. One child can walk to school and the other gets bused across town for "economic diversity". You had one member accusing another of threatening her. The Chairman unexpectedly resigns his post and the one accused now becomes chairman. In less than a year the members kick out the chairman accused of the assault and will not explain why. As soon as the Democrats gained control they fire the newly appointed by the Republicans superintendent. You can't make this stuff up. When I tell friends about this dysfunction from other areas they can not believe me. With all this being said we have now with the last election giving this group a blank check with voting for a complete Democratic Wake County Commissioners

  • Clarence Drumgoole Aug 11, 2015
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    Now that we have the definition of "dysfunctional", we can move forward! "My way or the highway, mentality".

  • Roy Twisdale Aug 11, 2015
    user avatar

    NC superintendent: Halifax school board 'dysfunctional'

    Well is this a big surprise or what? Growing up in Weldon (Halifax County) I got to witness the disparity in education between Weldon School System and the Roanoke Rapids City School System. Of course that was over 30 plus years ago. I think the Weldon School System and teachers did the best they could with what they had.

    I knew that when the state took over the oversight of Halifax School system in 2009, things would not get better. There is no way on earth that there should be 3 different school systems in Halifax County. It's a total waste of resources.

    This is a prime reason Halifax County is in the financial state that it is. You have to make it a place that people want to live and work in. You do that with quality education for everyone. Not with smoke and mirror schemes like the Parton Theater. Times have changed.

    The forced segregation that was in place by boundary lines, when I was in school has got to