Wake parents worried that Tony Tata's job is in jeopardy
Posted September 21, 2012
Updated September 24, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — The PTA of a Raleigh elementary school is urging parents to show their support for Wake County school Superintendent Tony Tata, saying they are worried that his job could be in jeopardy.
The Hilburn Academy PTA sent an email to parents and school staff Friday afternoon, asking that they call school board members and send them emails before Monday, when the school board is scheduled to meet to take up personnel matters.
"It has come to the PTA's attention that there may be efforts among a group of Wake County school board members to remove Superintendent Tata from his position," the email said.
Monday's meeting, scheduled for 12:30 p.m., is closed, because, under state law, personnel matters are confidential.
Tata, whose contract doesn't end until June 2014, could not be reached for comment.
School board members who were contacted by WRAL News Friday afternoon said they cannot discuss the subject matter of the meeting.
But WRAL News has learned that there has been scrutiny over Tata's job performance among school board members. The most recent concerns centering on a flood of complaints over school buses showing up late or not showing up at all at stops when school began last month.
The district had taken dozens of buses out of service this school year in an effort to cut costs, but added about three dozen back after parents voiced their concerns. Those complaints also led Tata to apologize publically to parents.
Tata, a former brigadier general, was named Wake schools superintendent in December 2010, but his appointment was not without controversy as educators, parents, community groups and some school board members expressed concern about his lack of experience in education.
Prior to Wake schools, he served for about 18 months as the chief operating officer for District of Columbia Public Schools, where he oversaw purchasing, food service, technology and other support areas.
Since then, the school board has changed both politically and philosophically, especially when it comes to assigning students to Wake County schools.
The Republican-led board that voted Tata into the post pushed for changing the school system's longstanding policy of busing students across the district for diversity purposes to a model in which students go to school closer to their homes.
Tata led the efforts to implement the new plan, which the board's current Democratic majority is now looking to change after being in place less than a year.
Hilburn Academy PTA President Mike Cassetta, however, points to other headlines.
Tata recently announced new academic gains in the school district. He added new initiatives, including two single-gender leadership academies and he gave teachers a small raise in his recent budget – the first in several years.
Cassetta says the superintendent also helped to turn around issues at his child's school.
"We were upset and felt like we needed to get behind our superintendent and show our support," Cassetta said. "We are just trying to get the word out."