Wake County Schools

Feds to investigate claims of bias in Wake schools

Posted November 17, 2010
Updated November 18, 2010

— The U.S. Department of Education will look into complaints of racial bias that the state NAACP filed against the Wake County Public School System.

In a Nov. 5 letter to the NAACP and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Alice B. Wender, director of the District of Columbia Office for Civil Rights (OCR), wrote that the department understood the complaints and would investigate.

The letter marks only the first step in the process, she wrote.

"Please note that opening the complaints for investigation in no way implies that OCR has made a determination with regard to the merits of the complaints," she wrote.

The school board voted earlier this year to change its policy for assigning students to schools, focusing on efforts to keep them near their neighborhoods and eliminating a decade-old effort to have socio-economic diversity in each of the 163 schools in the 143,000-student system.

Rev. William Barber, the president of the state NAACP, welcomed the action in a statement issued Wednesday.

"We are pleased the U.S. Department of Education shall begin a thorough investigation of our detailed allegations against the Wake County School Board on two major issues: racial discrimination in student assignments and racial discrimination in disciplinary patterns and practices," he said.

"We look forward to working with the department, which grants millions of dollars of black, white and Hispanic taxpayers' money to Wake County each year, to ensure our money is not spent in a discriminatory manner. We will keep the public informed as the investigation unfolds."

Ron Margiotta, chairman of the Wake County Board of Education, said he does not believe there is an effort to discriminate. He said the charges were "thrown out there to cause chaos."

Barber has been a vocal opponent of board's move to change a policy of student assignment based on economic diversity and replace it with one based primarily on geographic proximity. Barber and his supporters believe a change in the policy will lead to segregation of Wake County schools and lower quality of education for low-income students.

The investigation will address two specific complaints, according to the letter. First, that the school board discriminated against "non-white" students when it voted to change the student assignment policy. Second, that the school system punishes African-American students more often and more harshly.

"Our goal is the prompt, appropriate resolution of the allegations," Wender wrote. 


This story is closed for comments.

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  • tnt2dn Nov 19, 2010


    This is what Mr Buffet Slayer needs to be reading! Please read...

  • ncguy Nov 19, 2010

    Well then almost every county in NC should be investigated then.
    anywhere there are neighborhood schools needs to be investigated. charlotte closing schools too investigate them because of course closing schools is racial too?

  • com_mon_sents Nov 19, 2010

    The only racists are the one always crying "racism". I was at neighborhood party a few weeks ago. A friend of mine,who has children, was lucky to win the "magnet lottery". I joke with him about that all the time. However, they simply stated that they were amazed how the climate of that school has changed since a large percentage of the base population has left. They left because the housing had been shut down and they had to move away. Like many are saying here, I am also, one that is sick and tired of people making excuses and wanting to dance around the issue. How come is it that a certain aspect of the population are not taught respect and the value of an education. Why is it, that this certain aspect of the population is suspended due to actions and the way the conduct themselves in public? The truth "bites" sometimes, but not looking at it WILL NOT make it go away. The issues in this segment of society really needs to be address and attacked head on, and not making the r

  • chevybelair57sd Nov 19, 2010

    The NAACP has done nothing for these students but try to pass on the "entitled" attitude. when Wake has to close schools and lay off teachers due to lack of money will these students get a better education?? Spending millions on fuel and busses only takes away from educational expendatures. If folks want their children to go to another school, live in the distric how simple is that.

  • WGH13 Nov 18, 2010

    josephlawrence43 U r so right. the truth prevails!!
    proof in the pudding. why make our kids suffer?

  • josephlawrence43 Nov 18, 2010

    djofraleigh: "defacto proof of discrimination"> Scuse me?? How about the plain and simple truth that more African Americans are suspended precisely because they don't know how to behave in a classroom/school.
    Just like the plain and simple fact that more African Americans are arrested (percentage wise) than anyone else. The answer is simple--they are the ones committing most of the crimes. Does that mean ALL African Americans are criminals or that they don't know how to behave? No. That is not discrimination--that is straight up and down fact.

  • umop apisdn Nov 18, 2010

    "I here what everyone is saying about the NAACP."

    Is that a fact?

  • umop apisdn Nov 18, 2010

    "I am sick and tired of my kids being treated like second class citizens"

    What planet are you living on? I've never seen this happen. When I was in public school there were set bus stop and you either found your own way to the stop or to school. You also went to the closest school to your home. Now if you want to do something for the kids, don't have them going to the bus stop at 6:00AM for a 45 minute ride to a school nowhere near their own neighborhood.

  • ICTrue Nov 18, 2010

    When I saw the title of this article, my first thought was...WELL, IT'S ABOUT D^&( TIME!. I am sick and tired of my kids being treated like second class citizens, always starting a step or two behind, always having the playing field tilted against them just because they are middle class, white Amercians!

    Guess it's just more of the same though. Good ol' Barber stirring it up. When will they find some real leaders instead of these whiners and agitators?

  • spamfortam Nov 18, 2010

    We all know that the assignment situation is awful all around. The disciplinary actions by Wake County are indeed harsher for the minority mailes and my son has attended three different schools in Wake County all with the same results. I have heard other minority parents mention these same issues with thier sons as well. At first, I didnt not believe that it was true when family and friends said they felt that the schools were being racists. After talking with other parents and realizing that similiar situations had occured with thier male sons, I have first hand experience with Wake County Schools being racists. When my son talks in class, he goes to the principals office and when other non-minority students talk in class, nothing happens. I have seen it with my own eyes. I have also had to deal with kids bullying, hitting or teasing my son and when he does something back to them, he gets in major trouble and they don't. It has happened over and over and the teachers admit to i