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Garner Mayor: Supreme Court Ruling Might Justify Lawsuit Against Wake Schools

Posted June 28, 2007

— Wake County school leaders said it appears Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling will not impact current policy in the county, but one local mayor disagrees.

The Supreme Court rejected school assignment plans that take account of students' race in two major public school districts. The decisions could imperil similar plans nationwide.

Wake County uses several factors other than race to determine diversity, but Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said what happened in Washington could pave the way for a lawsuit against the school board.

“We argue that they’re busing to achieve racial diversity,” Williams said. “They use the term socio-economic diversity.”

Wake County school board Chair Rosa Gill said race does not play a factor.

“There are some parents who will say race is a factor, but we really try to look at socio-economic and academic achievement,” she said.

For socio-economic status, the board looks at students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches. Wake County tries to keep that number under 40 percent at individual schools. Schools try to keep students scoring below grade levels at only 20 percent of their population.

Wake County has lived by these guidelines since changing policy in 2000. To help maintain levels, students can be bused miles from their neighborhoods.

Williams argues that the school system is busing to achieve racial diversity. He wants to overturn the school board’s policy and said he thinks Thursday’s ruling could help.

“If in fact it can be ruled that socio-economic diversity can be the same as busing to achieve racial balances, then I think we have a case,” Williams said.

The town of Garner plans to discuss options for a lawsuit at a meeting next Monday, he said.

On the possible legal action, Wake County Superintendent Del Burns said “attorneys will have to determine that.”

155 Comments

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  • migsander Jun 30, 2007

    The school board says that race doesn't play a factor in school assignments but I believe that to be a lie. If you take a closer look into Wake county school systems you will learn that minority students at a school live about thirty minutes away and live in a low-income neighborhood. This has become a problem for many middle-class families because they don't won't these kids attending their school. Many feel that these kids may have behavioral problems and cause a distraction for their children. They are going to have to learn to accept this because Wake County has a "percentage" to maintain. It is sad because this is a distraction for the students because they are trying to learn but this is just the way the cookie crumbles.

  • listening Jun 29, 2007

    yes suprisely the overall % is that high. Unfortunately the elderly on a fixed income usually only receives about $10 or less they are the ones who need help the most.

  • HealthyDiscussion Jun 29, 2007

    listening -

    Thanks for the information. Is the overall number really that high?

  • listening Jun 29, 2007

    HeatlhyDiscussion FRL forms need to have the families income and number of people in household. Income and household comp. is to be verified. There are others questions on the form but income and number of people/children are the most important. Families who receive food assistance need to provide the case number. 62% of people who live in Wake County receive food assistance.

  • HealthyDiscussion Jun 29, 2007

    Steve - you're right, but can't we start by trying to fix things locally? We obviously can't fix everything at once. Getting Uncle Sam to keep his nose out is going to be a very tough battle. I would like to think that it would be easier to become self sufficient at the local level and not stick your hand out to begin with.

  • HealthyDiscussion Jun 29, 2007

    and one more:

    Will middle-class children be hurt by attending economically mixed schools? The research suggests that sprinkling a few middle-class kids into a school of highly concentrated poverty will likely hurt their academic achievement. But so long as a majority of the students are middle class (defined for these purposes as not eligible for free and reduced-price lunch), their achievement does not decline. This is true in part because the majority sets the tone in a school, and because research finds that middle-class children are less affected by school influences (for good or ill) than low-income children.

  • HealthyDiscussion Jun 29, 2007

    A few other points from that article:

    An Economic Policy Institute study, for example, found that middle-class schools (those with fewer than 50 percent of students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch) are 24 times as likely to be consistently high performing as low-income schools (those with 50 percent or more of students eligible for subsidized lunch).

    On the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress given to fourth-graders in math, for example, low-income students attending middle-income schools (26 to 50 percent subsidized lunch) scored 219; middle-income students in high-poverty schools (75 to100 percent subsidized lunch) averaged a score of 212. This seven-point difference represents more than half a year of learning.

  • Steve Crisp Jun 29, 2007

    " have no problem with FRL and no problem with Title 1 either."

    I do. The federal government has absolutely no business being involved in education. NONE. That is a state's responsibility. The feds should not tell a state what to do, how to do it, and certainly should not contribute one single tax dollar. Shut down the entire Department of Education.

  • HealthyDiscussion Jun 29, 2007

    Maybe somebody can refresh my memory - what does that FRL form that comes home with your child (or shows up in the mailbox) need on it to be valid? I've seen them for years, but haven't ever paid attention because my family doesn't need FRL. What I'm getting at is how many are actually need based FRL and how many are folks trying to get something FRL? I'm not trying to be provocative - I honestly don't know. I admit I haven't paid enough attention to the form to know if there is any verification involved.

    I have no problem with FRL and no problem with Title 1 either. What I do have a problem with is they don't just count the kids at a given school and allocate based on that - they have to have a minimum of 35% at a given school to qualify. That's why the BoE moves kids all over - to make sure that the minimums are being met so that they can get the most Title 1 funding.

  • The Dude Jun 29, 2007

    His study may be true, but that's not my problem. I work hard to be in the middle class and provide for my family. Why should my family have to suffer because other families don't. I know this will bring a flood of "you elitist" or "you jerk" type posts, but when are people going to take responsibility for their own situations and their own children. If you don't like the fact that you kids go to a "poor" school and want them to go to a nice school and live in a nice neighborhood, WORK FOR IT!!! Nothing has been given to me and nothing should be given to anyone else. Where I come from, you work hard to move to the areas with good schools. You don't wait for the district to bus you there to create some false sense of equality.

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