Wake County Schools

Accreditation agency concerned about Wake schools turmoil

Posted September 26, 2012
Updated September 27, 2012

Wake County Public School System

— An Atlanta-based agency that accredits Wake County schools said Tuesday's firing of Superintendent Tony Tata and other controversial decisions by the Wake County Board of Education could threaten the district's accreditation status.

AdvancED launched an investigation two years ago into governance and leadership on the Republican-led school board that placed the school system's accreditation into jeopardy. Ultimately, under Tata's leadership, the district implemented a series of "action steps" to keep its accreditation.

Now, AdvancED President and CEO Mark Elgart has new concerns about governance and leadership under the Democratic school board majority.

"Right on the heels of what happened a couple years ago, there is another period of instability," Elgart said. "That is of deep concern – and should be – for parents and the community."

The school board voted 5-4 along party lines Tuesday to fire Tata, in part, because of his strained relationship with the board and a leadership style that board Chairman Kevin Hill and Vice Chairman Keith Sutton said "did not leave room for collaborative decision making and input."

The ousting came on the heels of the resignation of Don Haydon, the school system's chief facilities and operations officer, who oversaw busing in the district. Since traditional-calendar schools started last month, the school system has been flooded with complaints from parents about late or absent buses.

On Wednesday, Hill called the busing problems 'disastrous', hinting that they played a role in the decision to release Tata from his contract.

Also on Wednesday, Judy Peppler, a key player in implementing Wake County's current student assignment plan, stepped down from her role as chief transformation officer and interim chief of staff, effective Oct. 6.  

Neither Peppler, who was hired by Tata, nor Haydon gave reasons for their resignations.

Elgart said staff shakeups are likely indicators of "a lot of internal turmoil."

Sutton said he was not surprised by AdvancED's concern, but maintained that the board is within its rights to oust the superintendent, even without "foul play or misconduct."

But Elgart called the move "very troubling."

AdvancED plans to study a 110-page complaint filed by the Wake County Taxpayers Association last week citing a "lack of governance" and "continuous mismanagement" on the part of Democratic school board members.

The Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University also weighed in on the school board turmoil Wednesday, calling it unprofessional.

"The big changes they have tried to make all in one fell swoop are not going to get them far," said Jacob Vigdor, professor of public policy and economics. "The fact that they could not handle this fundamental piece of business makes you think about their long-range planning."

Sutton acknowledged that some people are disappointed with the board leadership and its decisions.

"We have got to do a better job to get along and try to put politics aside," he said. "The events were not politically driven, but I know people feel that way."

109 Comments

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  • ConservativeVoter Sep 28, 11:53 a.m.

    "How funny it is that when the school board was controlled by the last group and the gentleman prior to Mr. Tata was let go under similar circumstances (not agreeing with the majority on the board), no one seemed to mind. Now since, as you clearly super intelligent individuals put it, the board is controlled by the "liberals" and they do something that was done in exactly the same way as the "non-liberals", it suddenly becomes a travesty. Very curious..

    ncmatts"

    Burns was not let go.

    He resigned because his liberal and socialist agenda and ideology wouldn't allow him to work with the new school board and tear down his diversity dream.

    Also, Burns was caught hiding from the school board a report done by SAS that showed that socio-economic diversity (race) based busing actually hurt the academic achievement of minority students instead of helping them.

  • ncmatts Sep 28, 11:24 a.m.

    How funny it is that when the school board was controlled by the last group and the gentleman prior to Mr. Tata was let go under similar circumstances (not agreeing with the majority on the board), no one seemed to mind. Now since, as you clearly super intelligent individuals put it, the board is controlled by the "liberals" and they do something that was done in exactly the same way as the "non-liberals", it suddenly becomes a travesty. Very curious..

  • injameswetrust2003 Sep 27, 5:56 p.m.

    I thought this liberal organization would be giving the Fab Five a pat on the back for a job well done.

  • rachel Sep 27, 5:13 p.m.

    I sure would approve and loan a great deal of money to such a solid and sure performing school district....not

  • aspenstreet1717 Sep 27, 4:57 p.m.

    More drama.

  • snuffy Sep 27, 4:40 p.m.

    School system is too big. Let's break it up into four manageable systems.

  • driverkid3 Sep 27, 3:52 p.m.

    westernwake1::::WRAL should spend some time investigating all the retaliation against families in the Wake school system.

    WRAL will NEVER investigate the liberal side of anything. If it's going to hurt the libs, you won't hear a peep out of them. The really pathetic thing about it is WRAL is evidently proud of themselves for that.

    I thank GOD I got out of that cesspool known as the ddemocrat party!

  • Screw WrAl Sep 27, 3:40 p.m.

    Very well put,

    " Therefore, as I see it, the only vote I have is "no" on a bond issue, which will be a 1st for me, but the system leaves me no other choice. "

  • Nancy Sep 27, 2:31 p.m.

    Nuff - the poll allowed users to vote multiple times - so it's dramatic swing overnight to saying Tata should have been fired was pretty obvious (84% no last night to 90% yes this morning) It was not a good measure of reality.

  • The Blades Sep 27, 2:28 p.m.

    Here is the link. They took the poll itself down. During the 10:00 news last night, when I went to the poll it was 85% for Tata.

    Now it is 64% against Tata according to WRAL. But if you read the footnote...Interactive polls on WRAL.com are for entertainment and are not conducted in a scientific fashion. We make no guarantees about the accuracy of the results other than that they reflect the choices of the users who participated.

    http://www.wral.com/news/education/wake_county_schools/story/11598840/

    On Sept. 26, a day after the Wake County Board of Education fired Superintendent Tony Tata, WRAL News asked web visitors if they agreed with the action.

    Through 24 hours, more than 14,000 votes were cast. Of those, 64% were in agreement with the board; 35% opposed the action and 2% registered an unsure answer.

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