Wake County Schools

Wake parents question assignment 'choice,' Peace partnership

Posted April 10, 2012
Updated April 11, 2012

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— Wake County parents who are dissatisfied with their child's school assignment – or lack thereof, in some cases – told school board members Tuesday that the new student assignment plan is an unfair lottery that doesn't live up to its promise of proximity, stability and parental choice.

"There were no real choices," said parent Laura Willer. "The plan is a lottery with winners and losers." 

Eileen Taylor said parents are facing "problems with implementation, transparency and the plan itself."

Her daughter remains unassigned, she said, even after she pointed out to school system staff that an error had been made in calculating how many "proximity priority points" her daughter should have received.

She added that she ranked her top three schools without being notified that there were no seats left at any of them.

"It's like selling me plane tickets and, when I arrive, telling me there is no room on any of the flights," Taylor said. 

John Boyne said he feels misled about how the assignment plan works and that he wants help from district leaders to ensure his child winds up at one of his top six preferred schools.

"We don't want to roll the dice. We don't know how to play the game," Boyne said.

The assignment plan requires parents to list their top preferred schools for their children. Proximity to the school, where siblings attend and other factors determine where the children are ultimately assigned, but those factors are only used in deciding whether a family gets its first school choice.

The second, third and fourth choices are more random.

Laura Willer Wake parents: Student assignment based on luck, not choice

Boyne said the school system didn't make that clear and, as a result, his son remains unassigned.

"We would have ranked our choices differently," he said, going with a first-choice school his son was more likely to get, rather than the school they wanted most. 

Wake schools Chief Transformation Officer Judy Peppler said the ins and outs of the new assignment plan, including how second, third and fourth ranked schools would be treated in the process, was publicly listed, but she acknowledged that there was some confusion.

"It wasn't clearly understood, so we are going to work really hard to make sure that we update our website and make sure everybody understands that going forward," she said.

She added that the plan was designed to maximize the number of people who got their first-ranked choice. About 75 percent of Wake families did get their top choice, Peppler said.

Other speakers at the meeting, including real estate agents and business people, warned board members that uncertainty and instability in the student assignment process was likely to have far-reaching economic effects.

Parents, alums oppose leadership academies on Peace campus

More than a dozen William Peace University alumnae attended Tuesday's meeting to speak out against two proposed single-gender leadership academies at the university's Raleigh campus.

Susan Murray, who has a child in the Wake County school system and another at William Peace, said the institution is in turmoil and that "faculty and student morale is at an all-time low."

"You will not be welcome there," Murray said. "Everyone resents the fact that college students are being pushed aside for high school students."

The school district plans to place both of the academies, which are expected to have about 150 high school students each, on the Peace campus. The programs are slated to begin this fall and are designed to feature small class sizes, advanced courses and specialized leadership training.

Miriam Dorsey questioned whether the campus has enough room to accommodate high school students.

"I urge you to look at these spaces (that would be used for the academies). I think you will find they are small and compact," she said.

The university, which could not be reached for comment Tuesday, has come under fire from alumnae after a dramatic restructuring that included a switch from a single-gender student body to enrolling both men and women.

For that reason, Murray said, it's not a suitable location for leadership academies, an idea she would support at another institution.

"Peace is experiencing one of the worst times in her history," she said.

Dorsey went one step further, saying the university's leadership can't be trusted.

"The leadership is secretive and high-handed," she said. "Any dollars spent at Peace are dollars at risk."

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  • undefeated Apr 12, 2012

    Am I incorrect, or is this not the plan simply being implemented by the prior (before the last election) school board? Please tell me if that's incorrect.

  • mswayze Apr 12, 2012

    I would hope when telecommuting schools start popping up left and right, that the 'accreditation' is a good one.
    How much of this disparity reflects the various PTA organizations asscoiated with particular schools?
    Most 'home location' for households with kids are based on the local schools more than anything else. My high school was on the opposite side of town just shortly after we'd located close to the 'old' one as a priority(walking vs. bus), so I slept for the 45 minute bus ride to and from school.
    My own kids have passed this age group, (Thank God) but not by much...

  • pinkprincess2123 Apr 11, 2012

    bboyg62002- I agree!! The other thing I don't understand about Wake is the magnet system. It seems to me that just anyone here can choose to send their kid to a magnet school. I'm from Va Beach. We didn't have school choice, per say. If you were a qualified student (grades, testing, recommendations, etc), then you could APPLY for the one magnet elementary, one magnet middle, and two magnet high schools. We took a bunch of exams and were bussed across town starting at 5am.Otherwise, you moved to the school district you wanted your kids to go to.

    Regarding Peace- Peace is not in a position to take on more students. The campus is already extremely small. The admissions office and administrators need to seriously think about how to encourage more growth and more funding. Overcrowding the classrooms with high school students doesn't seem like a feasible option at this point, especially when students and alumnae are distraught.

  • whatelseisnew Apr 11, 2012

    If they want a real dice roll, they just need to live with the old way. You got zero choice and had zero control over where your kid went.

  • bboyg62002 Apr 11, 2012

    this whole mess is plain stupid--and I'm not even affected and don't have any children yet. Whenever elections come around for each of the current member's seats, we all should just vote for the challenger. I still can't fathom why neighborhood schools are a "bad" thing around here--just plain dumb. I grew up in the "hood" in LA and went to a neighborhood school, it's just the way it is. You pay more to live in a better part of town to go to a better school. Social-economic "diversity" needs to be punched in the mouth. End rant.

  • wakemom Apr 11, 2012

    how do you assume that is a black person that made the comment lol.."

    I think you assumed that, AJ didn't say a black person. OBAMAin12 is a product of OBAMAin08
    ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy

    i read the response that said in quotation markss "your people" by AngryJim!

  • 2kidz1hub Apr 11, 2012

    "It stated very clearly on there how many seats were available at each school, and how many people before me had applied."Das G

    I was told by a representative on the assignment committee to ignore that number because it was not accurate!!!! Not a sour grape -- just want what was promised--the ability to change schools if we were not satisfied with what was given. Note that we were satisfied with our base school BEFORE the feeder pattern changed it. Now we CANNOT get out of the school that we do not want.

  • Das G Apr 11, 2012

    "Did the parents whose students got their first choices complain? Or is this sour grapes?" -injameswetrust2003

    Sour grapes. We recently moved 3 miles away from our old home and decided to switch our school since a new one would be a bit closer. I went onto the choice site back in February and viewed our choices. It stated very clearly on there how many seats were available at each school, and how many people before me had applied. There was one popular local school at capacity that had less than 5 seats left yet had over 50 applications in 1 grade alone. Obviously, I chose another school that I knew I could get my kids into. If most of the people in a school that is at capacity decide to stay there, then the school is already full and can't accept any more students. This was the case with the first school I mentioned, so imagine how many sour grapes there are that didn't get into that school.

  • Gunny the Racist Apr 11, 2012

    i dont need to move. they need to come get my kid and take him to that rich white school in cary. its greedy white people that try to keep us out. OBAMA will fix it.

  • jahudson Apr 11, 2012

    "it's crazy if you don't like where your kid is then move!"

    This is not always an option, nor does it always work if it is an option for the family. I know a lady who moved into a specific neighborhood because of the school district, the very next year everything was redistricted and she was in a different one. So, "just move" is not a good option. This sounds like a mess to me, and I am glad i don't have to deal with it!

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