NAACP attacks Tata for remarks involving community group
Posted February 23, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — The state branch of the NAACP is attacking Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata for comments he made about a community group that attacked his truthfulness last week.
The Great Schools in Wake Coalition charged last Friday that Tata was using a proposed shift in school schedules for next fall to hide the costs of the parental-choice student assignment plan that his staff is implementing.
In an email sent Saturday morning to members of the Wake County Board of Education and a few senior staffers at the Wake County Public School System, Tata said he wanted to know if board members Christine Kushner and Susan Evans knew of the group's allegations in advance.
"Given each of your professed deep involvement in and adherence to the principles of this group, I am concerned that you endorse their attacks on me and my staff (unless of course you state publicly that you do not endorse them)," Tata wrote.
"Truthfully, I am having a hard time understanding your public endorsement of and involvement in this group that so fervently attacks me and my staff while each of you claims to want to have a professional relationship with us," he continued. "Attacks on my character such as those yesterday, which each of you implicitly endorse through your association and support of GSIW, undermine our ability to move forward as an effective governance team, in my view."
Evans and Kushner both fired back later Saturday, saying they haven't been involved with Great Schools in Wake since they were elected to the school board last fall. They took offense to his accusations and said he should have discussed the matter with them privately instead of in a mass email.
Tata responded Sunday evening with a conciliatory message, saying he sought some "clarity" regarding their current relationship with Great Schools in Wake.
On Thursday evening, Rev. William Barber fired back in an open letter to Tata, saying that his attacks on Great Schools in Wake, "also attacked the teachers, parents, and children to whom this organization devotes itself."
"Ms. Evans and Ms. Kushner, along with several other members of the board, have been patient and generous with you. They went a long way – too far, we thought – to compromise by supporting your school assignment plan, even though it ignores the commitment to diversity and the promise not to go backwards to segregated schools that got them elected to the school board. They took considerable criticism, from us and even Great Schools in Wake, for their willingness to trust in your leadership, good faith and a plan that has already indicated will result in re-segregation," Barber continued.
Under the new assignment plan, parents can choose from at least five elementary, two middle and two high schools, based on their address. The schools are a combination of traditional-calendar, year-round calendar, magnet and other specialty options.
The plan was created after the board decided to stop using busing to balance socio-economic diversity across schools and place more emphasis on allowing students to attend schools closer to their homes.
Great Schools in Wake wants the school district to publicly disclose the financial analysis used in drafting the plan. Chairwoman Yevonne Brannon alleged that changes to school schedules, which Tata has said could save up to $10 million in transportation costs, have been proposed to disguise the assignment plan's costs.
Some parents have balked at the schedule changes, noting that they would affect their ability to drop children off in the morning before work, volunteer at school and children's after-school schedules.
If the school board approves the schedule changes, Tata said parents would be allowed to switch their school choices so the hours of their selected schools meet their needs.