Wake County Schools

Tata: Student assignment plan will move forward

Posted October 14, 2011
Updated October 17, 2011

Wake County Public School System

— Wake County school Superintendent Tony Tata said the Board of Education will move forward with a vote Tuesday on the proposed student assignment plan, despite calls by some parents to wait.

In his weekly press briefing, Tata said it is important to seek approval as soon as possible so that parents can begin ranking their school choices in January.

At a public hearing Thursday, some parents asked leaders to delay the vote until new school board members are seated in December. Others asked that three newly elected members be involved now.

The hearing came 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. 

"I think it would be insulting to Anne McLaurin and Carolyn Morrison and Ron Margiotta to say, 'You don't get to finish your term. You don't get to do what you were elected to do,'" Tata said Friday. 

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 bused students for socioeconomic diversity. For the past two years, they've been working on a new plan.

Some parents at Thursday's hearing said they wanted more focus on student achievement, as opposed to student assignment. 

“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.”

Tata pointed out Friday that student achievement wasn't part of older plans. 

"It was all aimed at leveling a free and reduced rate (for lunches)," he said, referring to the method used to measure family income. "Here, this plan intends to give every student displaced by a magnet school the choice to go to a top one third, 40 percent school." 

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 schools. 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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  • 5Rs Oct 14, 2011

    Bad start, Evans. Just elected and already trying to control? Trying to stop work that has been in progress for most of a year?

    Yu obviously don't remember the 2010 Congress, where the Dems lame duck passed every payoff they could get their hands out for.

  • busyb97 Oct 14, 2011

    I'd be hard pressed to say that "voters overwhelmingly" voted for change. Look at the numbers of voters that turned out. A small percentage of people turned out for the elections. Perhaps that 20+% who voted were most impacted by the schools....

    But why should this board do anything any different than any other political machine? When the presidential elections take place and there is a shift in power, the current administration doesn't just stop work. They plow forward- sometimes more fervently to complete the tasks set out BEFORE the power change.
    Wouldn't you?

    I didn't even realize elections were held in October! I falsely thought it was the November elections. There should be a consistent schedule- one election in November, one in May. Presidential caucus should be on the SAME day nationally too - no more jockying for 1st place, but that's another story... :)

  • just1comment Oct 14, 2011

    I don't understand why parents don't know where their children will be going to school next year. The plan is very clear - all children will be grandfathered in at their current schools - unless they want to enter the Choice program and then they can choose. The only students who will be required to choose next year under are the new Kindergartners.

    Yes I have read the plan and Yes I have personally attended meetings and asked questions. The bottom line is that for everyone who is in the school system now nothing changes. Its all of the people who move here who will have to "choose" from available seats that are leftover after all of the grandfathering (OH - and younger siblings are Grandfathered too!). Frankly this changes nothing for my family - but I see the potential to keep new businesses away and to hurt property values. Its like "Hey we have a GREAT school - but sorry its full so you have to go somewhere else!"

  • Nancy Oct 14, 2011

    "i read it and? you people act like it is god's gift to wake county"

    No, just trying to be clear that your arguments prior don't go with the plan that they will vote on, you're making arguments that don't have any merit based on the plan.

    Now that I know you read it, I'll just ignore your arguments since they're not valid when discussing the plan.

  • Nancy Oct 14, 2011

    "Never called them losers...called them losers from Tuesday...meaning, folks who voted for candidates that lost. " - forautumn

    Yes, you called people losers - it was clear. In other words, losers are those who voted for candidates who didn't win.

    Childish really, don't you think?

  • rlissow Oct 14, 2011

    "It is very clear to me that these people didnt get reelected because the voters didn't approve".

    Or it could be that we didn't think the Democrats would turn out in force like they did. Either way, this plan has been in the works for 2 years, with enormous public input. The current board has been working on it, and while there are certainly kinks, the vote needs to move forward as planned. It's time for the grandstanding to end and for the board to work together; I don't care if you're a Republican or Democrat. If this immature fighting continues, Wake county will lose even more students to private schools and cost the county more money.

  • Da Toy Maker Oct 14, 2011


    Where are you from??

    I came down here from Upstate New York and I have a lot of friends who are in New York, NJ area. Up there are neighborhood school. Please tell everyone how much is the Property Tax up there? Tell the people here the property Tax between Hackensack(?) & the next Town, Maywood. I remember going to one of the Town meeting in the Town I was in Upstate NY. People were complaining about the amount of local Property Tax. One of the reason I relocated to the area was for the good school system. I don't know about everyone else. We are definitely glad we made the choice to move here.

    Most people having long bus rides are by parents' choice!

  • superman Oct 14, 2011

    It is very clear to me that these people didnt get reelected because the voters didnt approve. They going ahead with the vote that shows that the board and the supt (general) doesnt care about the parents and the voters. Full steam ahead and dont worry about the torpedos.

  • newtoNC Oct 14, 2011

    I have never been inclined to comment on a news story.. but ever since we moved here, all this ridiculousness about the schools is out of control. No child should have to take a 40 minute bus ride to get to school, especially an Elementary School child (5,6,7 year old, etc). People choose to live where they live - it is a conscious decision. I choose to live where I live and the schools in the neighborhood absolutely weigh into that decision. I was raised where you went to the same school as your neighbors and you knew where you were going. If this is the plan that will give parents some choices and keep a child from riding a bus across the city, then give it a chance. Clearly the old plan wasn't working, or they wouldn't be trying to change it. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Every family was given the opportunity to view the green and blue plans. If you chose to be silent then - don't decide to get a voice now!

  • vraptor Oct 14, 2011

    Who are the "some parents"? Let me guess. I bet there was a lot of cheating in the vote. If they want to be involved. How about getting involved with your kid and his/her education.