Wake County Schools

Wake schools protesters plead guilty; pledge continued fight

Posted March 2, 2012

— Twenty-one people who were arrested at four Wake County school board meetings two years ago – including state NAACP President Rev. William Barber – pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree trespassing charges stemming from protests of the district's new student assignment policy.

All 21 pleaded guilty under a first-offender program requiring 40 hours of community service in exchange for having their record expunged, Assistant District Attorney Steven Saad said.

They have until Sept. 5 to complete the service and pay $430 in court costs and other fees.

Nine others charged in the protests have a court date for March 16.

Barber, Rev. Nancy Petty, of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, and Duke University professor Timothy Tyson were among those who brought a June 15, 2010, school board meeting to a standstill when they spoke for more than 20 minutes and took over school board members' seats during a subsequent recess.

Petty and Tyson also entered guilty pleas Friday.

"We have said all along that however these matters were handled, it would be OK, because our goal was to keep constant focus on working in Wake County and across this state and national for educational equality – which is a constitutional right of all children," Barber said Friday.

At the time, the protesters opposed the school board's controversial decision to eliminate a decade-old busing policy for diversity purposes in favor of one that allows parents to choose schools closer to their homes.

School board protesters enter guilty pleas School board protesters enter guilty pleas

Barber said that he is still concerned that schools could be segregated because of the new assignment plan – even though school system officials have said they will not allow it to happen.

"Until every single child in Wake County and in this state, for that matter, gets their constitutional right to have a good education, we will stay on this path to justice," Petty said. "It may lead us back here again."

Despite their pleas, all 21 are still barred from school property, including board meetings.

School board Chairman Kevin Hill said that they can petition the panel to be allowed back on property, but that they must promise to abide by the board's rules regarding public participation.

"I'm glad the defendants were given the option of community service and that they'll be able to have the charged dropped," Hill said.

Board member John Tedesco said their punishments were appropriate.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • judithfergerson Mar 2, 2012

    Good job and teaching our young ones that you can throw a tantrum and get away with it with no punishment at all.Our judicial system is broke SOMEONE PLEASE OFFER TO FIX IT - the problem - too many slaps on the wrist.

  • vraptor Mar 2, 2012

    the perp walk.

    way to set an example for the students and staff.

    don't get your way. throw a hissy fit. get arrested.

    if students can be expelled from a schools system for life. so should these perps be banned from all future boe meetings.

  • Chapel Hill Conservative Mar 2, 2012

    Maybe the Rev. William Barber could call WRAL's free legal hotline that they have available today.

  • heelbilly Mar 2, 2012

    hey wake county yall can have'em.. please !!!

  • WRALwontdeletemyaccount Mar 2, 2012

    Barber, a first offender?

    You're kidding, right?

  • flashyswife Mar 2, 2012

    Yes, why are they not being charged fines for all the commotion they have caused? They disrupted a meeting paid for by the taxpayers. They should reimburse the taxpayers! Who do they think they are? Do they think they are just going to say "guilty" and then they go on their way?!

  • uncwilm Mar 2, 2012

    Not sure if anyone mentioned it yet but Barber lives in Wayne county so why is he trying to bother the Wake co schools.

  • Ex-Republican Mar 2, 2012

    "Obviously very few of you . . . have ever read Civil Disobedience . . . an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau"

    Actually Thoreau is one of my favorite writers. However, just because someone writes something notable doesn't make it applicable to all situations or that one even has to agree with it.

  • thinkin out loud Mar 2, 2012

    Progressive is just a synonym for Socialist. A socialist wants everybody to give into the pot to pay for everyone else. There is no yours or mine, it is ours (as in the entire populous). If you want to live in a socialist society move to another country!

  • Coretta Scott Thing Mar 2, 2012

    Obviously very few of you if any have ever read Civil Disobedience (Resistance to Civil Government) an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should NOT permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a DUTY to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice.