New members get schooled on board policies

Posted December 4, 2009

— In the wake of their controversial meeting Tuesday, the Wake County Board of Education's newest members got schooled Friday.

The members attended a three-hour orientation, standard for new members, to learn how the school system operates. School board attorney Ann Majestic also went over how board members should conduct meetings, as well as state statutes, public records laws and other procedural items.

New Wake school board gets schooled New Wake school board gets schooled

Four members – Debra Goldman, Chris Malone, Deborah Prickett and John Tedesco – were elected during this year's general election. Two others – Carolyn Morrison and Keith Sutton – were appointed earlier in the year to fill vacant seats.

The newly elected members and one sitting member of the school board make up a new majority that supports changing longstanding school board policies, including the district's busing policy to achieve economic balance.

Within hours of being sworn in Tuesday, the majority passed eight resolutions that included ordering a review the effectiveness of year-round schools and ending a policy called "early-release Wednesdays," in which students are dismissed early so teachers can use the time for training.

Educators and parents were shocked by the move, because the newly elected members went into that meeting with an agenda that wasn't available to the public or other school board members.

Some believe the move to make such decisions so soon was misleading.

Parent Diana Bader said she was "astonished" at how Tuesday's meeting was conducted with no advance agenda to the public.

"My hope is that they will slow down, go through the proper channels and allow feedback from educational experts, from the public, from the community, and from parents before they start affecting all the children of Wake County," she said.

"What was done was completely in order, completely legal," Prickett said Friday.

She said that is because when they met prior to Tuesday's meeting, they were not technically board members yet.

"I think we did the best we could for the students," she said, adding that actions from Tuesday's meeting should not be a surprise, as they stemmed from issues discussed during the election.

"Many of us got dozens and dozens of e-mails, people posting on my Facebook page, saying, 'Wow, thank God, we're so happy that finally we have a board and a leadership that's not going to tell us they have to study things for five more years and instead, they can actually take action,'" Tedesco said.

Tim Simmons, with the Wake Education Partnership, a group of business leaders working to better public education, said the new majority made its statement Tueday but that the legal reality will inevitable slow the pace.

"There are open meetings, public record laws and procedural policies, whether you love them or hate them, you have to follow," he said.

New members are taking note.

"We have the opportunity to build and agenda moving forward, and that's what you'll see more of moving forward," Tedesco said.

"I think this is a good learning experience for them to know what they're legally held accountable for, now, as elected by citizens of Wake County, as board members," Bader said.


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  • Tawny Dec 4, 2009

    Future decisions will not be so hastily decided upon at the next meeting by this new board. The decision to rescind early Wednesdays was a fairly simple one. It was unfortunate that an agenda was not presented to the public who attended the meeting, however it won't happen again.

  • injameswetrust2003 Dec 4, 2009

    "May I remind everyone that these people were elected by fewer than 11% of the eligible voters in the county"-just1comment

    So is every school board. The people have spoken - let's get on with the changes. Mayor Meeker's wife get on board or get out.

  • superman Dec 4, 2009

    MamaPossoum-- it was a violation for the current board members. Meetings must be open except when they are working on personnel issues with recorded minutes. They may not have violated the law-- but they certainly as heck violated public trust and the spirit of the law. The board is not required to have public discussions on issues-- but their meetings have to be open. To me, I do not object to what they did-- it was the manner in which it was handled! Their conduct was inmature and unprofessional at best. Lets just say they acted like spoiled children.

  • colliedave Dec 4, 2009

    The Wake County Board of Education's newest members got schooled Friday

    biased hack writing that is more common to the Nuisance & Disturber. But I guess all got their training in hack journalism from "skools" just as UNC's J-skools

  • pyrosinthesky Dec 4, 2009

    NEinGarner -- "Bull in a china shop."

    I guess you missed the Mythbusters episode on this. Bulls are extremely graceful in china shops.

  • just1comment Dec 4, 2009

    "Wow; I guess the people that disagree with the board should have gotten out and voted. By feel free to voice your opinions when you didn't bother to make a difference." - DML

    I would have happily voted agianst these candidates had I been given the opportunity! There was not a seat open in my district. May I remind everyone that these people were elected by fewer than 11% of the eligible voters in the county - that leaves 89% that they still need to hear from.

  • MamaPossum Dec 4, 2009

    "Public business gets discussed in front of the public and is available to public review and critisism. Chairman Ron and the Pope-etts have demonstrated that they belive they are above public discussion.

    The elected representatives of the four non-majority members of the school board have the right as board memebers to be part of all school board business." ----ncwebguy

    If they weren't sworn in yet, there was no violation of the open meeting laws!

  • though Dec 4, 2009

    I'm not sure why wake county parents constantly disrespect teachers. As a teacher, I know that we have absolutely no control over workdays, early release days and the Wake Wednesdays. We have no input into the calendars that we have to follow, or the curriculum we teach. As for the tired "if you don't like the job, find something else", guess what? Over half of all new teachers quit within the first five years. If all the teachers quit who sometimes complain about their job, you will be homeschooling your children. There is not one person out there that does not complain about their job at one time or another. I had a parent volunteer in my classroom, and in 30 minutes, she looked at me and said, "I have alot more respect for you now", because she didn't know what I did in the classroom. I think that all school board members should have to spend at least one day a week in a classroom to see how hard we work.

  • dmccall Dec 4, 2009

    "get schooled" is a slang term used for teaching a lesson, but in the context of correcting what they incorrectly thought. This is NOT what happened in this simple, scheduled orientation process.

  • bulbous Dec 4, 2009

    I'm so sick of hearing about diversity. On my street right next to me is a Korean family. Across the street is 2 black families next to each other. Next to them is a polish family right off of the boat. Our neighborhood home values are in the high 200's to 300's. The neighborhood next has 120's to low 200's. Right down the road are houses in the 400-500's. How is that not diverse getting them into the same school?