Raleigh, N.C. — John Tedesco was elected Tuesday to the District 2 seat on the Wake County Board of Education. His win with more than 75 percent of the vote is expected to shake up school diversity policies.
Tedesco got 49 percent of the vote in the Oct. 6 election but needed to receive a majority to avoid a second election.
Contender Cathy Truitt, who then received 24 percent of the vote, asked for a runoff election, then later rescinded her request when she dropped out of the race.
However, she never officially withdrew, and the State Board of Election ruled that the county had to go through with the runoff.
Tedesco's win Tuesday sets a new majority that could shift the school system's student assignment policy promoting socioeconomic diversity, where students are bussed to schools across the county to achieve a balanced makeup of students.
“We heard loud and clear across this county, people want to go to a neighborhood schools model,” Tedesco said Tuesday evening.
Tedesco and three other newly-elected school board members have indicated they want to change the policy in favor of neighborhood schools. One other sitting member of the board also supports a change.
Tedesco’s victory gives that faction a majority position on the nine-member board.
“I think we can come up with something better that respects the will of our parents, is fiscally accountable for our taxpayers, and keeps our children a little closer to home instead of on crazy bus rides," Tedesco said. "Instead of multiple reassignments, we know children need continuity."
Rev. William Barber, with the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, disagrees with Tedesco. Barber says moving back to a neighborhood school concept is essentially re-segregation, and will disproportionately hurt poor and minority students.
“If you engage in policies that desegregate and that undermine a quality education, you are again, in violation of your own constitution. That is illegal and we have to call it,” he said Tuesday evening.
Barber says the NAACP is considering legal action if the board moves forward with the plan to scrap the district's diversity policies.
"If we believe those policies are flawed, are unconstitutional, that run amok to the civil rights act of 1964, than we will stand," he said.
Tedesco and the other new board members – Chris Malone in District 1, Deborah Prickett in District 7 and Debra Goldman in District 9 – take office Dec. 1.