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N.C. Supreme Court hears year-round school case

Posted December 16, 2008

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— A group of parents who have been fighting how Wake County handles school reassignment got their day in court Tuesday when the state Supreme Court heard their case.

WakeCARES, a parent's group that has fought mandatory year-round school assignments, requested a Supreme Court hearing on the case after an appellate court sided with the county.

The parents say the Wake County Public School System should have asked them about moving their children from school to school as it decided to convert 22 elementary and middle schools to year-round calendars for the 2007-08 school year to keep pace with enrollment growth.

"There is under-enrollment in year-round schools and over-enrollment at traditional schools. The parents don't want it," said Attorney Robert Hunter, representing WakeCARES.

Because year-round schools rotate four "tracks" of students through a schedule of nine weeks of classes and three-week vacations, the schools can accommodate more students than traditional schools. One track is always on break.

“The policy is bad for families and families are being cut out of the decision in their children's lives,” WakeCARES parent Dawn Graff said.

Parents sued the school district to block the move, and Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ruled in May 2007 that parents had to give their consent before students could be assigned to year-round schools. The county then scrambled to get out permission forms.

"There's not a fundamental right to a school calendar. There's a fundamental right to an equal opportunity to a sound, basic education," said Attorney Ann Majestic, representing the school system.

Most families assigned to the converted year-round schools approved of the move, but then hundreds of families opted to remain in traditional schools. That left some year-round schools under-enrolled and aggravated overcrowding at some traditional schools.

In May of this year, a year after Manning's decision, the state Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that school district officials did not need parental consent to assign students to year-round schools. In August, the high court agreed to hear the case, setting the stage for Tuesday's arguments.

“Regardless of the resolution, we're glad we had an opportunity to have the hearing today,” school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said.

The seven justices could take three months to a year to make a decision. Until then, the school system will continue to ask for parental consent before assigning students to year-round schools.

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  • NC Reader Dec 17, 2008

    inform -- Most teachers at my school were thrilled with the conversion to year-round and told me they'd been wanting it for years. They had been taking summer jobs to help financially, and now they do things during their track-out times like substitute for tracked-in teachers or tutor. One teacher told me, "I'm a teacher. I'd rather teach as a second job than wait tables." The only teachers who have been less satisfied have been those with an older child on a traditional calendar, and even they have told me that it's worked out better than expected.

  • inform Dec 17, 2008

    This isn't and shouldn't be a referendum on the WCPSS, it's about WakeCARES and their disregard for due process. The School Board is a duly elected governing body. When WakeCARES lost the bond referendum, they wanted one for MORE $$, they lobbied the County Commissioners, and lost, then sued in District Court, and lost, then appealed, and lost, then appealed to the Supreme Court, and ... WakeCARES should repay the citizens of Wake County for the cost to the system of their litigation. WakeCARES doesn't represent me as a parent, it's a group of parents and teachers, mostly teachers, I suspect, that like having 3 months off each year. Aww, gee, get over it or get a private sector job.

  • schoonie79 Dec 16, 2008

    All children are required to attend school of some sort whether public private or home. WCPSS needs to get their act together and stop busing kids clear across the county to make them more diverse. If you live within walking distance to a school, your kids should go there regardless of the diversity. I tried to have my kid in YR and he got burnt out and started doing poorly so we moved to another county where this isn't an issue. WCPSS needs to look at other areas and see what they are doing to help with overcrowding and go from there. If parents don't like the calendar there are other options.

  • parent_of_3 Dec 16, 2008

    bs101fly:

    You only prove my point about being attacked by those who don't support YR. Your comments are insulting and rude! You make snap judgements against people without cause and people like you make me sick! And by the way I have my own mind, I have done the research with the folder to prove it, I don't go shopping, play bridge or closet drink. My husband and I raise our children! I don't hold the school system responsible for that. And I certainly raise my children to act better than you have!

  • bs101fly Dec 16, 2008

    "Should I ask them to sit at home and wait their turn?"

    YES!

    IF WakeCares loses, not only will all ES & MS schools go MYR High Schools will have to keep up and would likely get scrambled. In addition to that the reassignment pinwheel will seem like a vacation with all Chuck has in mind!

  • Chris_H Dec 16, 2008

    Leeca what track are your kids on? Also many YR schools are under enrolled that will not be the case if Wake Cares loses. At this point if Wake Cares loses - make all middle and elementary schools YR to be fair for all. YR/Traditional - no difference in actual scholastic achievement.

  • Leeca Dec 16, 2008

    There are a lot of mis-informed people on here. I have two kids in traditional and two in year round. It reeks havoc on the vacation schedule but my "fun" is not as important as my kids education. It's nice to have YR classes that are not full. My child gets a better education when there is a smaller ratio.

    As for bs101fly: Really? Those of us who are ok with YR cannot speak for ourselves or is it that we care about the kids in our community as a whole and not just what's convenient for us??? You keep talking about the cost of YR vs traditional, what about the quality of education? Where's your data on that? And for those of us who have so many kids, two of my five children are foster children who are new to this community. Should I ask them to sit at home and wait their turn?

  • Pandoras Box Dec 16, 2008

    ""I have been in YR since this whole mess started." If you've been in YR since it started in Wake Co, your daughter should have graduated by now."

    I'm sorry, I should have been clearer. YR didn't become a mess until it became mandatory. It may work for some, but has failed in most counties and states it has been tried in. My child went from being well organized and scheduled so to speak to a complete mess. It is difficult on them when their schedule is always so different. I'll be the first to admit it's hard on me too.

  • oceanchild71 Dec 16, 2008

    And as far as all you childless people complaining about your tax dollars subsidizing schools, remember that someone else's tax dollars surely subsidized some part of your education along the way unless you went to private schools and truly private colleges and received no financial aid throughout all of your schooling.

    If you have ever used a community center, participated in local parks and rec programs, etc. tax dollars went to cover part of that.

    Public schools are the first line of defense against poverty and criminal activity. This is not to say they always work, however, not having them would definitely lead to higher rates criminal activity and unemployment.

  • oceanchild71 Dec 16, 2008

    Ya'll KNOW that they will not convert any magnet school to YR. So, once again, there is inequity in access to educational opportunities.

    Also, I think you will lose MANY ms and hs teachers if all elem. schools are converted. One of the few perks of being a teacher is that you have the same time off as your child. My husband helps with the kids much more when school is in session because I am so busy with school. However, when summer kicks in, it is me and my kids. Now, you put me on a trad. calendar and my children on a YR calendar, you take away the biggest incentive to being a teacher; that precious time with your children.

    Like others have pointed out, over 500 districts have tried MYR and DROPPED IT!!! WHY? BECAUSE IT DOES NOT WORK!!!

    For YR to really work, you have to have buy in from all parents, teachers, and the community. Like it or not, NC is a traditional state. If you don't like it and our traditions, then remember the road in to Wake Co. also leads out.

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