Protest, arrests as Wake schools prepare to vote on diversity policy

Posted March 23, 2010
Updated March 24, 2010

Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 29, of Raleigh, is arrested on Tuesday, March 23, 2010, outside the Wake County Board of Education's headquarters during a protest of the board's pending vote in favor of a resolution to begin moving away from the school system's policy of busing students to achieve socio-economic diversity.

— Police on Tuesday afternoon arrested three people and removed more than a dozen others from the Wake County Board of Education meeting as the board took up the controversial plan to end the school system's long-standing student assignment policy.

Students protest outside Wake schools meeting Students protest outside Wake schools meeting

Dante Emmanuel Strobino, 29, of Raleigh, was arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing, police spokesman Jim Sughrue said.

Two additional protesters were later arrested as they chanted outside the packed meeting being held inside the district’s administration building. Duncan Edward Hardee, 21, of Ashville, and Rakhee Shirish Vasthali, 21, of Fayetteville, were each charged with one count of resisting, delaying or obstructing a law enforcement officer, Sughrue said.

All three were transported to the Wake County jail.

The protest came as the board prepared to cast a final vote on whether to move toward an assignment model in which students go to schools within a certain community zone. The decade-old assignment method now under fire buses students across the district to help achieve socio-economic diversity, allowing no school more than 40 percent of students receiving free- or reduced-price lunches.

The meeting got off to a rocky start Tuesday because of the board's decision to limit the number of people in attendance and the time for public comment.

“This is one more step in shutting down public opinion,” parent Judy Pidcock said.

About 80 people signed up to speak with many expressing concerns over the 2-minute limit.

“I think the new board, even though they claim they want transparency, and to include all people in the decision process, few of their actions have suggested such, and I think this is another example of that,” parent Heather Koonz said.

School board chairman Ron Margiotta said the time limit and ticket policy was designed to adhere to building fire codes. He said everyone who wanted to speak would be able to do so.

"If they've signed up on the speaker list, they'll be speaking even without a ticket," he said.

The debate over student assignment has heightened racial tensions between the board and the NAACP, which has accused the board of trying to resegregate schools.

Organizations, business leaders, parents and community members have also asked the board to reconsider the move.

Five of the school board's nine members have indicated that they support the community-based assignment plan and have insisted that they have no plans to segregate students.


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  • Deep Thought Mar 24, 2010

    I don't live in Wake County so I may have missed something.

    Weren't the 5 people on the school board that are voting for neighborhood schools elected on that platform? Are their actions a surprise or are they doing what they said they were going to do? If the anti-neighborhood school folks cared that much, why didn't they get out the vote?

    Why does WRAL seem to be against what the new school board is doing instead of just reporting what is happening?

  • wildcat Mar 24, 2010

    I am white and I am against bussing

    I believe that makes you a racist too. How can you say that it is wrong to bus kids?

  • wildcat Mar 24, 2010

    If you don't want you kid to be buss, then drive them yourself and stop the complaining. All the kid wants is to get to school and you adults get bent all of of shape. Cool down and the answer will come.

  • wildcat Mar 24, 2010

    I am white and I am against bussing

    Since you have no children attending this school,you should be very quite. thanks.

  • genie2u Mar 24, 2010

    Don't mind WCUMom - she is a total racist and everyone on GOLO and WRAL knows it. I am white and I am against bussing (can't imagine what parent wouldn't be) but I do NOT agree with her

  • genie2u Mar 24, 2010

    What idiot would NOT want their kids to be on the bus as little amount of time as possible?

    1st there is the safety issue. The longer on the more chance a wreck or anything could happen (not to mention most kids on the bus act like animals from what I observe when behind one)

    2nd. Give your child more time to sleep in the mornings

    3rd. Gives your child more time for homework / activities / family in the afternoons.

    Bussing is the most idiotic thing I have seen the schools do, it is time to stop.

    Every parent should want their kids to be able to go to school with kids in their community. Any parent who says, yea, I am all for wanting my child to ride the bus an hour EACH way is full of it and is NOT looking out for their kid, but instead wanting to cry racism.

    If you want your kid to go to a certain school then MOVE! Why should my kid have to ride the bus an HOUR because of that

  • mootybird Mar 24, 2010

    Was ACORN in town for a meeting?

  • jas1022 Mar 24, 2010

    Dragonspider: No they bused them in from Chapel Hill and Durham.

  • jas1022 Mar 24, 2010

    And the liberal idiots of this state thought EVERYONE should have been invited!!!

  • Caveman93 Mar 24, 2010

    I don't think black kids learn more by sitting next to white students and I don't think white kids learn more by sitting next to black students. I think FOCUSING on the EDUCATION PROGRAM AND EXECUTION OF A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM REGARDLESS OF WHO SITS NEXT TO WHO WILL DETERMINE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION!! It does not require money either.