Wake County Schools

Wake parents uneasy, uncertain about student assignment plan

Posted October 13, 2011
Updated October 17, 2011

Wake County Public School System
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— “Where is my child going to school next year?” That's the concern weighing on the minds of thousands of parents who have children in the Wake County Public School System.

A proposed student assignment plan fails to adequately answer that question, parents said during a public feedback session Thursday at Broughton High School in Raleigh, especially while the board's makeup hangs in limbo.

The hearing comes two days after the election of four Democratic-backed school board candidates. A runoff election for the final seat will be held Nov. 8 and will decide whether the four Republican board members keep their majority or if the four Democratic members gain it.

Many parents urged board members to delay voting on the plan until the newly elected board members take their seats in December, citing results from a summer test-drive of the plan that showed 94 percent of parents are satisfied with their current assignment.

"Let's get it right and move (the new board members) up there and start talking," Laura Broadbelt said during Thursday's hearing.

Superintendent Tony Tata, however, said the vote would go forward, as planned, on Tuesday in order to have the plan in place by January.

Wake parents want assignment vote delayed Wake parents want assignment vote delayed

"We will bring new board members up-to-date when that time comes, but we are focused on getting this done next week," he said.

Susan Evans, who beat current board Chairman Ron Margiotta for the District 8 seat, questioned why the board was rushing their decision.

"It is not a desperate situation where we have to get it done quickly, and I prefer we do it correctly," she said.

But Margiotta defended the board's decision not to delay a vote.

"Government doesn't stop moving because of an election. It continues," he said. "An entire year would be lost implementing the plan (if we wait), something we are not willing to do."

When the new board members take office, parents like Katie Sommers fear the assignment plan won't stick.

“It’s stressful that my son is going to be moving to a new school, and he keeps asking me and everyone keeps asking me, ‘Where is he going next year?’ And I can’t say where, because I don’t know for sure at this point what’s going to happen,” she said.

In 2009, a newly elected majority on the school board threw out a decade-old plan that bussed students for socioeconomic diversity. For the past two years they've been working on a new plan.

Sommers said she learned early to pay attention to the school board. Her son, 10-year-old Jackson Sommers, has already had his first experience with school reassignment.

“I don’t really like it. I was almost changed to Adams (Elementary School) in first grade, and I wasn’t excited about it,” Jackson said. “But my mom fought for me, and I’m able to stay at Oak Grove.”

Wake parents feel uncertain about student assignment Wake parents feel uncertain about student assignment

Other parents say they just want a plan in place and some stability so leaders can focus on what's really important.

“Student achievement is it,” said parent John Dion. “I don’t care who they go to school with or where they go, I just want to know when they go somewhere it’s a good school to go to.”

Four Democratic-backed candidates – incumbent Keith Sutton in east Raleigh (District 4), Jim Martin in south-central Raleigh (District 5), Christine Kushner in central Raleigh (District 6) and Susan Evans in southern Wake County (District 8) – won seats on the Wake County school board in elections Tuesday.

Incumbent Kevin Hill, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Heather Losurdo are expected to face off in a runoff Nov. 8 to decide who will represent north Raleigh (District 3) on the governing board of the state's largest school system.

Hill finished election night with 49.7 percent of the votes in District 3, just shy of the 50 percent he needed to win. Losurdo requested the runoff.

The proposed student assignment policy aims at giving parents choices for their children's education while keeping students closer to their homes. Opponents, including the state chapter of the NAACP, say the move would create pockets of poverty in the school system and segregate schools.

Under the plan, parents could choose among at least five elementary schools and two middle and high schools – including traditional, year-round, magnet and high-performing schools – based on where they live.

Parents would have priority at schools closest to their home and where children have a sibling attending. Students already enrolled in the district may also stay at their current school. Students in schools considered low-performing will also be able to choose to attend a school that's considered high-performing, based on test scores and qualified teachers.

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  • Nancy Oct 14, 2011

    "No. I don't have any link to anything. I based my statement for Realtor Brochures, News Reports by the Medias (People might called them Bias or what not". I just remember reading about how a lot of school systems were studying WCPSS' Diversity policy as a good thing by educators and policy makers. "

    Yes, not a link to "Wake County is one of the best in the nation" claims. Now I understand. There is no comparable data showing where this system stands in relation to other large districts of comparable size showing ours to be 'one of the best' etc.

    Opinions aside, don't keep making the claim based on those opinions, it's not been founded by facts.

  • Nancy Oct 14, 2011

    "Really? where is the proof, from you, that it was the majority of parents complaining. You have offered some comments from those that were reassigned. But you have shown nothing that proves the majority of parents in the school district were complaining."

    Again, I don't have every case of every complaint, but the news was full of it annually. I won't do your research for you, but you could find articles on local media sources if you looked.

    You don't have to believe me, in fact, I strongly suggest you look to see for yourself.

    And since you choose to ignore even those examples which I posted and consider them the rare few, you probably never had children in the school system during all those years or you would have been fully aware while it was ongoing.

  • opuntia Oct 14, 2011

    "You can't put a school next to everyone."

    True, but it is irksome that there are at least 5 schools closer to our house than the one my child is assigned to.

  • forautumn Oct 14, 2011

    "I guess though that it's just easier to ignore the past discontent and assume it was a minority of parents complaining."

    Really? where is the proof, from you, that it was the majority of parents complaining. You have offered some comments from those that were reassigned. But you have shown nothing that proves the majority of parents in the school district were complaining.

    I'm guessing it is just easier to make up stuff to support your position and keep repeating it, hoping that makes it true.

    Sad.

  • Da Toy Maker Oct 14, 2011

    wakemom:

    That is why I said most of the long bus rides are voluntarily except the poor kids anyway. As I agree with you, those that complaining about long bus rides are most likely the ones fighting to get their kids into Magnet schools. NO, I DON'T have data sheet to back it up but just an observation. I personally believe those are also the ones who want their kids in the Magnet schools but don't want the poor kids to come to their neighborhood if their own kids don't get in.

  • jhendrix95 Oct 14, 2011

    Re: Tata, no big loss if he goes. He had no education background (he was in charge of ordering supplies in the DC system). In your business, would you hire someone for a large, complex, critically important executive position who has no experience in that field or in your industry?

  • Nancy Oct 14, 2011

    ""How do you think the 94% of parents who are happy are going to feel when their student has to move because someone who wasn't assigned to that school under the old plan "chooses" it and their child is pushed to their 2nd or 3rd choice?"

    One last time for this - parents can keep their child in their current school until they age out if they so desire.

    Do you understand that it negates your claim they won't be happy? My goodness.

  • Nancy Oct 14, 2011

    "do you really believe that, with any board, there are going to be NO reassignments? They are going to happen, and it is likely that the folks that they happen to will not be happy.

    But they do not represent the MAJORITY of all parents....big difference"

    That is the point behind this whole plan, to offer stability from reassignment.

    Did you ever read the plan? It's very easy to understand, even with growth, how stability will be achieved.

    I guess though that it's just easier to ignore the past discontent and assume it was a minority of parents complaining.

  • Da Toy Maker Oct 14, 2011

    "Something other than that statement being made?
    Nancy"

    Nancy:

    No. I don't have any link to anything. I based my statement for Realtor Brochures, News Reports by the Medias (People might called them Bias or what not". I just remember reading about how a lot of school systems were studying WCPSS' Diversity policy as a good thing by educators and policy makers.

    I personally believe our College Freshman son got a superb education from WCPSS comparing to my friends'private school graduated kids of his age. Again, that is just us. I also see your point of the high achievement gap between various Race, Social/economic groups on Wake county. Seriously, if you compare WCPSS to other large school systems of similar size, it does quite well. I also personally believe there are lost causes in a lot of situations that I could never figure out how to solve. Granted, we have only one child so if if he were reassigned, it really doesn't impact us as other families with kids.

  • forautumn Oct 14, 2011

    "No they don't, they want status quo board members to do their thinking for them. tat is no longer in charge, Susan Evans is. Tata better get used to that fact real quick. He'll be lucky to keep his job 3 months after she takes over. As for next week's vote, don't count on that lasting too long either. December is just a blink away and Susan is frothing at the mouth"

    Poor thing...hopefully you will survive.

    LOL

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