NAACP upset by Wake school board chair's comment

Posted March 4, 2010
Updated March 5, 2010

— The state NAACP says it will hold a news conference Friday following a remark made earlier this week in which the Wake County school board chairman called a crowd at the school board meeting "animals."

The school board voted 5-4 Tuesday in favor of a controversial resolution to move toward community-based schools and away from the school system's longstanding diversity policy.

Ron Margiotta Margiotta's 'animal' comment

The meeting room was packed with nearly 100 people who signed up to speak during a public comment portion of the tense and emotional meeting and included speakers for and against the school board's resolution.

At one point, Chairman Ron Margiotta said, "Here come the animals out of the cages."

Margiotta said Wednesday that he was responding to how rude people in the crowd were following a comment by Bill Randall, a black congressional candidate speaking in support of the resolution.

When asked again Thursday, Margiotta said he felt like he was out of order when he made the comment, but he was caught up in the moment.

"He happened to be a friend of mine. It was the way he was treated by the audience," he said.

State NAACP President Rev. William Barber will speak about the comment Friday.

"It is derogatory at its core, anyway, to refer to citizens who are merely speaking to issues they are concerned about as animals," Barber said.

"If he would say this on an open mic, what is being said behind closed doors," Barber asked.

"Any public official referring to those with opposing viewpoints, engaged in the democratic process as animals is unacceptable," Amina Turner, state NAACP executive director, said.

"We just had someone speak in praise of the board, and there was such a ruckus that broke out," board member Debra Goldman said. "People were acting very aggressive and very angry.

"I think, whatever Mr. Margiotta said, he was really stressed," she said.

School board member Keith Sutton issued a statement Thursday saying: "I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Margiotta as a person and as the chair of our board. To hear him make these disparaging remarks about anybody regardless of race is extremely disappointing."

The state NAACP has been an outspoken critic of the school board's idea for community-based schools, saying it is a "racially discriminatory policy" that will segregate poor students and keep them from receiving the same quality of education as more advantaged students. The group has threatened legal action against the school system.

School board members, however, have insisted that they have no plans to segregate students and that student achievement is their top priority.


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  • someguy Mar 5, 2010

    Since the NAACP does this all the time, I'm going to try it out. Maybe, just maybe, it will work.


    Apparently, if you 'call' for things, they end up happening.

  • TomLynda Mar 5, 2010

    Sessy private for a while:

    You are right on. The teachers do a thankless job. The parents of the kids that are failing are the ones to blame. They just ship them off to school and think it's the job of WCPSS to do everything for thier child. The parents have to get involved in the child's education at every level, especially the home.

  • Sessy V--V Mar 5, 2010

    its not the teachers faults these students are failing....... maybe the parents should be to blame as well.

    Parents SHOULD be making SURE their children are doing homework, getting extra help if obviously needed

    stop blaming poverty level.......... that has NOTHING to do with it

  • RaleighMD Mar 5, 2010

    I have started a blog for those of you that have positive ideas on how to help WCPSS and our Children.

  • josephlawrence43 Mar 5, 2010

    just being curious here--but where did Rev. Barber attend school to earn the title of Reverend? And what about his title of Doctor? Doctor of what???? No disrespect intended, just curious..

  • lorivalentine1 Mar 5, 2010

    Although inappropriate.. the comment does not appear to be racist in any way. Mr. Barber needs to chill out and stop trying to incite people to see what he wants them to see instead of for what it is..

  • djofraleigh Mar 5, 2010

    The NAACP has the right to be be upset for being called animals, if they were the ones. The ones called racist have the right to be upset. Of the two names, one is a real insulting charge, the other a name call.

    The discussion hits a low point with most outsiders not seeing much to admire in either side.

    The man should say sorry about that and move on.

  • showsomelove Mar 5, 2010

    skcuslarw, not one of my comments have been extremely or shockingly wicked, cruel or brutal! Maybe you can find these qualities in me, because you must harbor some of these characteristics. Please do a spell check for me, I to do make mistakes! I do have room for human error.

    RaleighMD, I would not expect for us to totally agree, that's why we are entitled to our own thoughts. I do respect you for putting forth an effort to try and start a way to help out on the problem. Maybe if many of the ventors would put forth the energy that they are wasting trying to correct others! That would be one student who could use the help, make a turning point for that child. The children of Wake Co. (all) are the #1 priority!

  • TheAdmiral Mar 5, 2010

    WaaaaahhhhH! I want the government and the schools to change my diaper! Waaaaaaaaah!

  • RaleighMD Mar 5, 2010

    skcuslarw - I don't always agree with "my2angels" but she is trying.