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Judge wants state to take over Halifax schools

Posted March 18, 2009

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— A Superior Court judge has ordered a hearing for next month to determine who should run Halifax County Schools for the system's "apparent failure" to provide students with "equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education."

"This is academic genocide and it must be stopped," Judge Howard Manning wrote Monday in a letter to the school system notifying it of the April 29 court hearing. "It is time for the state of North Carolina … to exercise direct command and control over the Halifax County Public Schools."

Manning cites poor end-of-grade reading test scores in the school system, which he describes as "nothing less than an academic disaster."

On the elementary school level, 71.3 percent of students are not proficient in reading, and 74.3 percent of middle-school students are not proficient, Manning said in his letter.

"This is irrefutable evidence of a complete breakdown in academics in Halifax County Public Schools," Manning said.

Halifax County Schools spokesman Keith Hoggard said the school believes part of the reason the numbers are above 70 percent is because of changing standards in the state's reading tests.

At the same time, he said, the school system recognizes that 70 percent is a high number. It is taking corrective measures, which include working with the state, Hoggard said.

“We agree with major points included in Judge Manning’s order. We, too, are aware of the district’s performance and the absolutely unequivocal need to provide our students with a sound, quality education that is second to none in the state and nation," Halifax County Schools Superintendent Geraldine Middleton said in a release late Wednesday.

Middleton said the district is already taking measures to improve student performance.

“We have conducted a comprehensive needs assessment to investigate our systems, processes, procedures, and instructional practices,” Middleton said. “The results of our comprehensive needs assessments have given us the information we need to put into action a transformative and systemic plan."

Manning has long overseen the academic performance of state schools after a ruling several years ago in Leandro v. State of North Carolina, a case that sought to get more state support for school districts in low-income and rural areas.

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  • Chin-up Mar 19, 2009

    Damofo...It creates accountability. For who? HC administration, dept. heads, teachers, and yes even parents. Things can easily be swept under the rug, and 2nd,3rd,4th chances be given with ease. How many times would you allow Dennis the menace to disrupt your classroom before you kicked him out. Good kids do exist in HC who are trying to succeed in school and life. Continual distractions from repeat offenders is frustrating for the student and parent. At some point you have to draw the line. Under the microscope of the judicial system, it will not be as easy to allow these delinquents to slide through and create havick in the schools. I do however agree that it does start at home, and parental support is very important. Guess what, I think in time these parents will be held accountable as well. Do I think this is an overnight fix, NO. However, I do feel it is a positive step in the right direction. ACCOUNTABILITY! I also think HC is just the beginning.

  • onyourheels2 Mar 18, 2009

    this is the out come of what happens when people support teenagers having kids. these kids drop out of high school with no guidance from the parents and start the baby cycle. then guess who they turned to, the gov't. the gov't treats them like they should be rewarded for having all of these kids. they hear all of this bs that it takes a community to raise a child. well, i guess by looking at these facts, these communities are failing. it's funny that all of the communities that are passing, almost always having caring parents who put the children before the themselves. i wonder how much these teenage parents are costing us, because i know they are not paying for it.

  • daMoFo Mar 18, 2009

    "One fact remains. While we all sit here and punch away at our keyboard with answers, ideas, and supposed solutions, Judge Manning is taking action. THIS is what WILL produce results!"

    Chin-up, exactly how is this going to produce results? And what results? What exactly will change if the state runs the school system? Will the state get the kids to be on time to class, do their homework, stop playing on their cell phones, stop skipping class and stop disrupting class?

  • due_whats_right Mar 18, 2009

    Dmnynkee - if you are going to make an accusation, make sure it is based on facts. This is not Obamaism as you mentioned. This is not the first county school system that has been taken over by the State. This has gone on for a while and part of No Child Left Behind - which is Bush's educational initiative. As an educator of 14 years and personally aware of the issues in the Halifax County School System, bringing the state "turnaround teams" in can help salvage the school and students get a fair education. Am I for it? No, but the state does not come in after 1 year of low performance. They were given the resources, time and guidance to improve. While all that is good, if you cannot change what the parents do, all the turnaround teams in the world may not work! Charity begins at home!

  • truth2 Mar 18, 2009

    This system's scores are not very different from many other counties.The counties' residents are poor and only support segregated school systems. The private schools are not good, just available for the non-minorities who can pay the tuition. There students are not assessed by a comparable test to the public schools. As for merger, it would be naive for us not to think that this is surely a race issue. None of us have the answers but leaving the problem off of the parent's doorsteps is the biggest issue to begin with. There are too many laws and lawsuits mandating what everyone has to do to make a child successful except for mommy and maybe a daddy. I have checked the scores of the whole state. IS JUDGE MANNING READY TO TAKEOVER THE WHOLE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM? Making judgment on one system when all 100 counties fell because of renorming reading scores is prejudicial. As for RR City Schools, decades of drawing district lines around minority neighborhoods will catch up to you.

  • heintz Mar 18, 2009

    The problem is not going to be fixed by refusing to allow students to take control of their education. Get the state out of the way so that they can take control of their own lives. You can't really believe that bureaucrats really are better at teaching than teachers.

  • christineswisher Mar 18, 2009

    Does anybody give a thought to the fact that the parents may just be somewhat responsible for the low score of this county? Why does the judge want to "dumb" the rest of us down to their level. If they can't keep up, go to the source. I can't imagine that county having any incentive to provide decent teachers and most of the parents there are helpless to do anything but teach their kids more at home to make up for that lack.

  • Trolling Wolf Mar 18, 2009

    Manning is finally "getting it". He originally ruled that the school system was not getting enough money...even though Halifax was reverting a large amount of unused funds back to the State. They had plenty of money...just not enough common sense. "Throw money at it and it will go away" is the same old tired theme. How about a little personal accountability with the folks in Halifax. And it starts with the parents and their kids. If the parent does not show an interest in their childs education, then the kid will act likewise.

  • lonewolf27592 Mar 18, 2009

    Hey, guys! Here's a thought for the high schools. They arrive there short of what they need and then are also needed to help the family keep its collective head above water. What do you do then? Our system is designed to put everybody into college. How realistic is this? Everyone is not college material although everyone should have a minimal level of education to live in toady's world. Do I have the answers? No, I don't but I think that what we currently have will not serve us well when we need the AC fixed in the summer of fix the clogged pipes when water is backing up through the drains. My understanding of the State's position is everyone should go to college and major in science or technology. We need people with less education or else groceries prices will go through the roof as people will refuse that work because they are overeducated.. Economy now is forcing people that way in spite of education. But again consider the economic situations of the families living there

  • dmnynkee Mar 18, 2009

    donnied1952 -- haven't you paid attention - welcome to Obamaism -- not quite socialism, not quite communism -- definitely not what our founding fathers envisioned, but it's what we've got with all these democrats who think The Government knows best

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