Wake County Schools

Tata, board members meet to iron out differences

Posted February 24, 2012

— Wake County schools Superintendent Tony Tata met Friday with three members of the Wake County Board of Education and the school system legal adviser to smooth things over after a heated email exchange put him in the spotlight last weekend.

Susan Evans and Christine Kushner Tata, board members meet and make up

Tata apologized to Susan Evans and Christine Kushner following an email exchange in which he accused them of supporting the Great Schools in Wake Coalition in its attack on his plan to change bus routes and bell schedules.

The group charged that Tata was using the shift in 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 Kushner and 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.

"The GSIW folks understand that my role as a school board member is separate and different from their role as a community activist group and we are all respecting those boundaries. I am disappointed that you would assume otherwise," Evans wrote.

"I am even more disappointed that you would choose to send such an accusatory public group email, prior to discussing your concerns with me privately," she continued. "I find this unacceptable behavior for a Superintendent to exhibit towards a Board Member and counterproductive to a respectful working relationship."

"With all of the public records requests for Board emails, I must assume you know your broadside attack on me and another Board member is, and that you intended it to be, a public record. I believe this raises a serious question of judgment," Kushner wrote.

"I have been completely respectful and open with you, even when you have had an 'aggressive' (your word) conversation with me," she continued. "This is not an acceptable way for a superintendent to treat a Board member."

Tata responded Sunday evening with a conciliatory message, saying he sought some "clarity" regarding their current relationship with Great Schools in Wake.

"I deeply apologize if you feel that I was disrespectful. While straight forward, I intended no disrespect and I certainly made no accusations or allegations of conspiracy," he wrote.

In Friday's discussion, the trio agreed "that Ms. Evans and Ms. Kushner have not violated any ethical rules," Board Chairman Kevin Hill said in a statement.

"We recognize the importance of a positive working relationship between the Board and the Superintendent and are all committed to working together on behalf of our students and our community," Hill stated.

5 Comments

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  • vraptor Feb 24, 7:51 p.m.

    when will tata be fired by kevie? when will burns be rehired? when will illegal FRL busing be brought back?

    the supreme will toss out all affirmative action rules this year.

    did u know that asian's are not identifying themselves as asains because colleges say they have too many smart asains and not enough other races. so now being smart and asain is a bad thing. some one else will get your slot!!!!

  • MLWoman Feb 24, 7:42 p.m.

    It was only a matter of time before Rev. Barber attacked Mr. Tata, he was only biding his time. What it all boils down to, in my opinion, is who do you want to guide Wake County Schools, Mr. Tony Tata or Rev. William Barber. My vote is for Mr. Tony Tata.

  • westernwake1 Feb 24, 7:35 p.m.

    As all good managers should do, Tata has documented the ethics issues of thes school board members in writing and it now setting the table to tell these two elected "supervisors" the expected behavior of a school board member. Either they back the overall direction agreed to by the Board and Wake County staff, and stop their support of a third party organization critical of Wake - or these two ladies can face the obvious legal consequences of the next steps.

    Time for Tata to lay down the law.

  • Whatthehey Feb 24, 7:00 p.m.

    Tata could take a job anywhere in the county - if the board'sdignbat members drive him out, it will be Wake County's terrible loss.

  • Rebelyell55 Feb 24, 6:08 p.m.

    As I look into my crystel ball, I see someone leaving the hall. It ain't because of lack of trying, but some people just ain't worth the lying. So back they'll go to a life more pleasing, and leave these folks to their pitiful wheezing.