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Supreme Court halts Wake year-round plans

Posted May 22, 2008

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— The state Supreme Court issued an order Thursday that prevents the Wake County school system from assigning students to year-round schools without parental consent.

The state Court of Appeals had ruled two weeks ago that the district didn't need parental consent to send students to schools converted to year-round calendars. The stay issued Thursday blocks the district from acting on that ruling until the high court decides whether to review the case.

School Superintendent Del Burns said he was unaware of the court's action and couldn't immediately comment on it.

School board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said the district would once again use consent forms to determine year-round assignments until the case is resolved.

"We have to do what we have to do. I don't think we're going to change our focus on teaching and learning, no matter what factors come into play," Gill said.

The district's attorneys were reviewing the Supreme Court's order Thursday evening and will advise the school board how to proceed, spokesman Michael Evans said.

A parents' group called WakeCARES sued the district last year over its plans to convert 22 elementary and middle schools from traditional schedules to year-round calendars. They contended the district didn't have the authority to mandate attendance at year-round schools and said the new schedule would disrupt the lives of hundreds of families.

District administrators maintain they needed to operate more schools on year-round calendars to accommodate growing enrollments. The rotating schedules of students at year-round schools mean that each school can handle about 25 percent more students than it would accommodate on a traditional calendar.

Superior Court Judge Howard Manning sided with the parents last May, saying the district needed the consent of parents before assigning any student to a year-round school.

The district proceeded to convert the schools, but hundreds of families opted out of going to them and were assigned to traditional schools for the 2007-08 year, leaving some schools under-enrolled and others extremely overcrowded.

The appeals court overturned Manning's ruling, saying state law doesn't preclude a school district from assigning students to year-round schools.

Despite that ruling, the school board voted to leave the student assignment plan for 2008-09 in place. However, students registering after June 1 or not returning a consent letter by that date would be assigned to a year-round school under the board's plan.

"A stay and writ will require that the parental notification will continue in compliance with Judge Manning's order. The continuance of this process will have the effect of quantifying the number of parents who desire a traditional school assignment for their children for the next school year," Robert Hunter, the attorney for WakeCARES, wrote in a motion requesting the stay. "A stay ... will also continue to secure the constitutional rights of parents to direct their children's education against invidious actions by the board."

Dawn Graff, one of the founders of WakeCARES, said the group was pleased by the stay.

"It gives parents more time to opt out under Judge Manning's ruling. We are cautiously optimistic regarding the Supreme Court hearing the case," Graff said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • hkypky May 23, 2008

    Oh Neill ... the debate is far from over. Just like what school your kid is assigned to, you can rest assured that whatever is decided today is going to be fair game tomorrow. As much as WakeCares would like to take the credit and the WakeCares haters would like to blame it on them, they are not the driving force. WCPSS/BOE do it to themselves with little help from the rest of us.

  • ohsotired May 23, 2008

    The taxpayers also approved the Capital Improvement Plan attached to the 2006 bond funds. So far, the BOE has removed 2 new schools from that plan. According to WCPSS, MYR was necessary due to Wake County's capacity crisis. Now they don't even need 2 whole schools?

  • inform May 23, 2008

    Whether agree with the decision, or not, the debate has run it's course, with the BOE deciding to build new schools for YR, the taxpayers passing a bond referendum to support it, the County Commissioner's backing down, as they should in deference to the duly elected BOE, the courts considered opinion in favor of the BOE, the court of public opinion and a pending NC Supreme Court decision whether to even hear the arguments. Due process HAS been followed, and while the outcome hasn't been decided, the Supreme Court would be veering wildly off course to even consider, much less overturn the validated will of the majority.

    Say what you will, WakeCARES has been continually beaten, and will ultimately be broken. What else does WakeCARES care about besides the YR? This is not a life or death issue, nor a matter of eternal salvation, get over it!

  • oceanchild71 May 23, 2008

    Unlike apparently many other parents, my husband and I believe that it is our duty to supplement our children's education outside of the classroom. If kids are forgetting stuff, that is on the parents.

    There are so many studies out there about whether YR is better for students or not. You can pretty much use one study to promote one angle and another study to promote the opposite. Many seem to indicate that there can be some benefit to those who are behind, but are detrimental to those who are ahead. Maybe the best thing to do is to use a combination of EOG scores and teacher evaluations and if your kid is ahead, they get to choose and if they are behind, YR it is. Who knows, maybe that is where this is heading.

  • oceanchild71 May 23, 2008

    We just returned from a trip out to Las Vegas where YR is very prevalent due to the tremendous growth. One thing that was noticeable was all the playgrounds at the schools had canopies to shield the kids. How much you want to bet that items such as this were not included in the budget when itching to convert to YR?

    Also, buses out there have A/C. Most here do not. How many kids or drivers for that matter will suffer heat exhaustion or worse on the crowded buses. It will happen sooner or later.

    Have you ever taught a class in a brick building w/ no A/C when it is 96 degrees out? I have and it is miserable. Opening the windows has its own risks with bees and wasps flying into the classrooms. The kids get so hot that learning is the last thing on their minds. It's hard enough to keep the A/C going during the first and last parts of the school year. Trying to keep it going in mid-July is insane unless we are willing to open up our wallets and shell out $ for A/C upgrades.

  • gunfam May 23, 2008

    Neill, if I remember that poll, it was about 52% in favor, with a +/- of 4% error...you call that a majority? I call it, at best, a tie.

    It may require a few less schools (less construction costs), but it increases utility costs (running the AC in July and August, the 2 hottest months), wear and tear on the buildings (constant use), and the true hardship it causes on families. In addition, I haven't seen and proof its "better" for the kids. Studies show its equivalent, and better for some but not for others. I'm afraid I *don't* believe that the BOE would change there direction if there was a better way, if anything, they have dug in their heals on this matter. Oh, and the bond...they claimed that MYR and the bond were separate issues...until it passed (barely), they they used it to say "the people want MYR".

    We can agree to disagree, which is fine. I'm just looking out for my family, and want my voice heard.

  • hkypky May 23, 2008

    "Oh snap!" as my kids would say .... here's THE answer:



  • hkypky May 23, 2008

    Speedy: You got that right!!!!

  • hkypky May 23, 2008

    NC Reader: I went looking for poll results and, back to my point, didn't find much that defends either calendar. Feel free to add to this list:


    As for what is really going on ... According to this link, 12.1% of WCPSS students were in Year Round in the 05-06 school year. I am sure the number is higher now but am also equally sure that the number is not the majority:


    Here a teacher poll that seems only to inquire about whether teachers would be willing to teach in Year Round and are they supportive of converting magnets to year round:



  • poohperson2000 May 23, 2008

    The bond that we passed was to pay for new schools that would open as MYR.. It passed that way, and now it is still a debate.. So interesting..