Wake County Schools

Taxpayers group files complaint against Wake school board

Posted September 20, 2012

— A local group is blasting the Wake County Board of Education in a new complaint for what it says is "continuous mismanagement" and "a lack of governance" by the Democratic school board majority.

The Wake County Taxpayers Association, a nonpartisan group that has historically supported conservative candidates, filed the 110-page complaint Wednesday with the national accreditation group AdvancED, saying the board's "hasty decisions," actions and party-line votes have resulted in "a climate of fear and intimidation with stakeholders in the community."

Specifically, the group is concerned that the board is once again reviewing the school system's student assignment plan, passed by the previous board in October 2011, which was supposed to remain in place for three years.

"We are disturbed that the dysfunction of the current school board and the inability of the new majority to work with the former majority to get anything done," said Russell Capps, president of the Wake County Taxpayers Association. "It's affecting the children and the parents of Wake County in a very bad way, and it just doesn't seem that they can get their act together at all."

There are 14 other issues in the complaint, including:

Education Taxpayers group files complaint against Wake school board

• Allegations that the board showed a lack of transparency when it voted at 1 a.m. on a directive for school system staff to revise the current assignment plan.

• Democratic board member Susan Evans allegedly rejecting concerns by two community groups "who were intimately involved and consulted" during the creation of the current assignment plan.

• Great Schools in Wake, "a partisan political group whose members include at least three of the newly elected board members," having "extreme influence" in the school board's decision to change the current assignment plan.

• Allegations that school board Chairman Kevin Hill scheduled a "secret meeting" about the assignment plan with newly elected board members prior to him assuming responsibilities as chairman.

• Board member Jim Martin, a North Carolina State University professor, violating board policy by allegedly requesting a discussion to create a policy that would benefit N.C. State professors.

"I think what they're actually doing is putting their finger on a common complaint by a lot of parents," school board member Chris Malone, said Thursday.

Malone, who was part of the previous school board's Republican majority, said he believes the complaint has merit.

"Things have been disjointed. It's been dysfunctional, and too partisan," he said.

Vice Chairman Keith Sutton, part of the current Democratic majority, said that while all concerns should be thoroughly examined, he believes many of the allegations are not relevant and that many of them have been taken out of context.

"Most of the complaints are centered around the personal behavior of some of the board members as opposed to procedural misconduct by the board," he said.

The new complaint is the second in as many years to go before AdvancED.

In 2010, the state chapter of the NAACP complained about policy changes by the then-Republican-controlled school board, including the elimination of the district's decade-old student assignment policy, which placed students in schools with the aim that each school across the district would be socio-economically diverse.

In March 2011, AdvancED found that the school board created a "climate of uncertainty, suspicion and mistrust throughout the community."

The board has since taken steps to improve its governance and to address problems that AdvancED outlined in its report.

But Capps said Wednesday that "the positive improvements … are slowly being eroded away by the continuous mismanagement and lack of governance by the new board majority."

"The new majority set about immediately to bash the (new student assignment) plan and direct staff to create a new plan," according to the new complaint.

The current three-year plan gives parents more input into where their children are assigned.

In June, however, the school board directed school system staff to revise the plan, partly because board members were still concerned that it doesn't adequately address the needs of students in low-performing schools.

Parents also complained that it wasn't working for their families, and some likened the new assignment plan to a lottery.

The school system is still working on the revised plan for the 2013-14 school year.

62 Comments

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  • ConservativeVoter Sep 26, 7:21 p.m.

    For those who talk about their premier schools in Wake County, they need to talk to my sister and brother-in-law about what happened when they moved their rising fifth grader from Brassfield to a school out of state in one of the best performing school districts in the country based on test scores.

    Brassfield is one of the highest ranked elementary schools in Wake County.

    Their daughter has been struggling all year to keep up, yet she made straight A's for K-4 at Brassfield in Wake County.

    Wake County may be good but students from Wake County have a hard time adjusting to better schools in better performing counties.

    Guess what, that county has 240,000 population with 24 elementary schools and has no magnet schools or socio-economic diversity (race) based busing.

    This county has neighborhood schools and the only busing is within each school's attendance area.

    Doing more research, Wake County has a reputation because of it's diversity program, not it's classroom performance.

  • jimsyjams Sep 21, 6:56 p.m.

    Why can't we just get some people on the school board who care about WCPSS and not their own political agendas! Get rid of the politics entirely and just do your job!

  • rand321 Sep 21, 3:46 p.m.

    The Taxpayers group should be more concerned about the lack of long term planning with the WCPSS! The impact of the future taxes for the old GOP led board's choice plans are going to increase property taxes a lot of $$$$$

  • ConservativeVoter Sep 21, 3:39 p.m.

    Per the Democrats on this forum, it's okay for Democrats to file a complaint with Advanced about the Republicans but it's not okay for Republicans to file a complain about Democrats for the same offenses.

    Democrats are such hypocrites.

  • westernwake1 Sep 21, 12:53 p.m.

    "Copying someones complaint, changing the names, and refiling it is 100% publicity stunt. The NAACP may have been misguided or wrong, but at least they were sincere" - bill0

    Actually the citation of the Democratic board members behavior is extensive and detailed - so it is more then a copy-n-paste job.

    I believe that both complaints (NAACP and Wake County Taxpayers Association) are equally absurd. I also believe that Rev Barber and the NAACP coming to Raleigh to complain about a neighborhood assignment proposal in Wake when the county he lives in uses neighborhood based assignment is nothing more than a publicity and fund-raising stunt for the NAACP, there is nothing sincere about it.

  • not-in-my-lifetime Sep 21, 10:51 a.m.

    Wah, wah, wah....same old story. Enough already.

  • jcthai Sep 21, 10:48 a.m.

    Surely this story is a joke, worthy of the Onion? The Wake County Taxpayers Association is non-partisan? A "group that has historically supported conservative candidates" is non-partisan? There is no way any group run by Russell Capps is non-partisan. He is an extremist right winger who has a long history of lunacy. I still remember his letter to the N&O proclaiming that Evolution violates the 2nd Law Of Thermodynamics. (No it doesn't. You many believe in Evolution or deny it, but it doesn't violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.) Come on WRAL, you need to call a spade a spade. In a January, 2011 piece, you called it "conservative". What's changed your mind to start calling it non-partisan?

  • Sick N Tired Sep 21, 10:29 a.m.

    WOW, some people need to check their egos at the door, roll up their sleeves and get to work FOR THE CHILDREN (not their own self-interest)! I don't think anyone should be eligible for the board that does not have children in the system.

  • bill0 Sep 21, 10:24 a.m.

    "So I am waiting for you to state that the complaint filed by the NAACP about the Wake County School System with AdvancED was just as improper as the recent complaint filed by the Wake County Taxpayers Association. If you don't then my assessment is spot on."

    Copying someones complaint, changing the names, and refiling it is 100% publicity stunt. The NAACP may have been misguided or wrong, but at least they were sincere.

  • 1983rs Sep 21, 10:15 a.m.

    as a wake county taxpayer I feel that this small group using a title like this is misrepresentation at best...

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