Protestors barred from Wake school property

Posted July 14, 2010
Updated July 15, 2010

— Four people who brought a Wake County school board meeting to a standstill last month still have not responded to a letter barring them from school property, a Wake schools spokesman said Wednesday.

The board on Monday notified state NAACP president Rev. William Barber and three others that they must provide written assurances that they won't disrupt or obstruct any other meetings.

Doing so, the letter states, would mean "immediate legal action" against them, Russ Smith, senior director of security for the Wake County Public School System, wrote.

Barber, 46; Nancy Ellen Petty, 46, a pastor at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh; Timothy Buie Tyson, 50, a research scholar at Duke University; and parent Mary Dobbin Williams, 48, were charged with second-degree trespassing following the June 15 demonstration against a new student assignment policy.

The letters, sent less than a week before an expected mass protest at the July 20 school board meeting, state that by disturbing the June board meeting, those arrested, “blatantly violated the board's rules for public participation at board meetings and attempted to prevent the board from conducting its meeting."

"You can not come to a meeting and shut it down,” Wake school board Chairman Ron Margiotta said Wednesday.

Margiotta said he ordered the letters sent because he doesn't want another such disruption.

"I have a great deal of respect for people's rights and objections to what we are doing ... but there are certain limits to what they can follow through with,” Margiotta said.

Petty said Wednesday evening that she and the other protesters felt disrupting the meeting was the only way they could be heard.

"I don't have any regrets," Petty said of the demonstration.

The four were protesting the school board’s recent decision to move away from an assignment policy where students are bused across the district to help balance socio-economic diversity. The new policy, which is still under development, aims to place students closer to their homes.

The school system currently bases diversity calculations on the number of students in a school who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, which are federally subsidized and depend on family income.

Barber has called the new assignment plan a "public emergency" and said he won't stop fighting the board's "morally wrong" decision. He and other opponents fear schools will become resegregated.

Leaders of the NAACP and African Methodist Episcopal Zion Churches of the Eastern District are encouraging other civic, religious, parent and student groups to take part in a mass demonstration Tuesday against the planned policy change.

Petty said she has not received the certified letter yet barring her from school property, but she plans to continue standing up against the board's new policy.

"I am planning, at this point, to go to the (next) school board meeting,” she said.

Margiotta said the school system has hired four off-duty police officers in anticipation of demonstrations during Tuesday's meeting. The board is also consulting with Raleigh police about additional security.

( will provide live video of the Wake school board meeting Tuesday.)

The Wake school system's assignment plan now in place became 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.

The five board members who voted to end the policy argue there are better ways to achieve diversity in schools. They favor keeping Wake's nearly 140,000 students as close to home as possible.

Other board members point to studies that say the old socio-economic policy actually increased the number of schools with high percentages of students receiving free and reduced lunches.


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  • NoFreakinWay Jul 16, 2010

    We don't need history, we need those whose minds are stuck in history to take it elsewhere. Your outdated thinking is well, outdated.
    Byebye story, it finally drops off today.

  • tabdjb Jul 15, 2010

    Not only do I appreciate history, I learned from it. Maybe history is what some of you need to look back and see what has happened in the past. There are many now in wake county who do not have nearly have the resources that others have. Please stop believing that the world is completely diverse and we all get along and everything is fair and equal. I'm not the one who needs to open my eyes, I live with it everyday and like most, have learned to adapt and make the most out of life and not let others bring you down.

  • cary1969 Jul 15, 2010

    "A person can not learn to appreciate another race if they are never around them.tabjb" so i'm to assume you don't appreciate history since you were not around.

  • tabdjb Jul 15, 2010

    Please go to and take a look at the base school maps for the schools. Most of you would be surprised to see exactly how close most of the kids live to their school. Don't fool yourself because there are many non-diverse neighborhoods in Wake County and a lot of the parents have chosen to send their kids to schools further away for the magnet programs. A person can not learn to appreciate another race if they are never around them. That is why we are having this conversation now because the assumption is that all F&R and bussed kids are dumb, trouble-makers and their parents don't care. Public education is what you make of it no matter where the school is.

  • Remy Jul 15, 2010

    "Yep, if you dont live near the school you want to go to, it is really simple and easy just to move." superman

    Maybe if you rent an apartment. Seen how long houses are on the market these days before being sold? Nothing simple or easy about it.

  • ambidextrous cat Jul 15, 2010

    superman: No it's not simple and easy to move! Have you ever taken a moment to even imagine that some people have less resources than you do? Moving is a big deal, and school systems can change in a few years.

  • NoFreakinWay Jul 15, 2010

    Barber and the other 3, and those who support them, are powerless and pointless on this issue. He and the others are irrelevant!

  • twc Jul 15, 2010

    About time someone stood up to people who believe they are above the rules of everyone else.

    That doesn't mean I agree or disagree with the board's decisions.

  • superman Jul 15, 2010

    The board members surely realize that even if these people dont show up at the board meetings that they are 5 or 6 other people in Wake County who do not approve of their new policy. I think there are even 4 members of the current school board that do not agree. No matter how close you are to a school there may be other students who are closer and you may not get to the school of your choice. A lot of people do not live close to 3 different levels of schools. Yep, if you dont live near the school you want to go to, it is really simple and easy just to move. Perhaps you can do what the Mayor in Apex said, he was going to build a school there.

  • injameswetrust2003 Jul 15, 2010

    Unfortunately, this letter will just give Barber more reason to shoot off his big mouth. Will he show up at the next meeting so he can be arrested again? Stay tuned.