Raleigh to review Wake student assignment policy

Posted June 24, 2010

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— The city of Raleigh could be getting in the fight against a controversial decision by the Wake County Board of Education to eliminate a longstanding policy of busing students for socioeconomic diversity.

Mayor Charles Meeker said Thursday he will form a group of education leaders and attorneys to review the school board's move toward an assignment policy that would place students in schools as close as possible to where they live.

“They have already hurt Wake County’s reputation nationwide and they are taking steps in the wrong direction,” Meeker said.

Further action would be premature to comment on, he said, saying the review group is still just an idea that likely won't come together for several months,

"Obviously, litigation is a last resort," Meeker said. "If that is what our community needs to do to be sure to protect our children, that is what we will do."

Meeker's wife, Anne McLaurin, is one of four school board members that has voted against community-based student assignments.

The mayor also supports the school system's current policy, which places students in schools across the district in an effort to make sure no school has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Mayors weigh in on school diversity fight Mayors weigh in on school diversity fight

The goal, in part, is to boost student performance, but the school board's majority and proponents of community-based schools say the current system isn't working.

"I'm disappointed that (Meeker's) talking about a lawsuit while we're here trying to work with the community," board member John Tedesco, who is in favor of the schools.

By placing students closer to their homes, parents can be more involved in their children's educations, and there will be more stability in where children go to school, supporters of the new system say.

The new assignment plan is more than a year away from implementation, but opponents believe it will re-segregate schools, create pockets of poverty in the community and lead to high teacher turnover.

The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has vowed to fight the new policy with protests and legal action, if necessary.

The current assignment plan in place has become a national model for districts looking to achieve balance in student populations without violating a 2007 Supreme Court decision that limits the use of race in how students are assigned.

Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly disagrees strongly with Meeker. He believes the system’s old system was not helping low-income children.

Weatherly said second-guessing the work of the school board is unfair to the voters who put them there.

“The overwhelming majority of those who voted in the previous election are dictating a new direction for this school board and the school system,” Weatherly said.

Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams believes there is still room for compromise. He fears that if things go too far, it could get messy.

“If it continues, I think there will be more noise in the streets and things will be taking place that we don’t like,” he said.


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  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jun 25, 2010

    Meeker is committing a conflict of interest by using Raleigh resources to sue the WCPSS because the majority won't go along with the minority viewpoint of Mayor Meeker's wife, Anne McLauren.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jun 25, 2010

    Only 40% of WCPSS students live in Raleigh. Meeker has no busy trying to control WCPSS when 60% of WCPSS students live outside of Raleigh.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jun 25, 2010

    Meeker is threatening to sue the WCPSS since his wife (Anne McLauren) can't get her way on the school board.

    Raleigh has better uses for it's money than suing the WCPSS.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Jun 25, 2010

    Meeker needs to worry about things that are important including banning garbage disposals and pine straw.

  • heelsrule Jun 25, 2010

    I guess the will of the people doesn't count for much in Wake County. If you don't agree with the results of the election then sue, sue, sue.

  • Not_So_Dumb Jun 25, 2010

    Oheezo, thanks. I agree, FWIW.

  • oheezo Jun 25, 2010

    Well that's the question isn't it? To Bus or Not To Bus!
    You want to know where I stand? The current policy isn't working, is the proposed policy the answer...I don't know. The decision is a financial one though not racial. Although some would have you believe it can't be one without being the other. To answer your question, yes. The majority would benefit and if you wanted to attend another municipality you would have to move there. It is easier to maneuver a boat than a battleship.

  • Not_So_Dumb Jun 25, 2010

    Oheezo, honest question, were there be a municipal school district setup instead of a county wide one, do you think that the majority of Wake's non-Raleigh residents would benefit?

  • oheezo Jun 25, 2010

    The funding of schools is not my point. The economic impact goes far beyond a school campus. Property values, growth, increased tax base, these are the topics of concern for the cities of Wake County including Raleigh and the mayor. These are all directly impacted by the decisions the board makes.
    It's really to bad though that the issues has been tossed out the window and this whole thing has just become personal. It's one elected official versus another elected official. Both looking for personal gain not the betterment of a community.

  • Not_So_Dumb Jun 25, 2010

    "As the Mayor of the largest city in Wake County, Mayor Meeker has an obligation to the citizens of Raleigh to seek the most favorable financial decision. "-oheezo

    There is no city level funding of schools. Finances are a red herring.