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N.C. high court upholds mandatory year-round schools

Posted May 1, 2009

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— The North Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that school systems do not need parental consent to assign students to year-round schools.

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

The parents have said the Wake County Public School System should have asked permission before reassigning students 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.

Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson said in the 4-3 opinion that the Wake County Board of Education was doing "its duty to provide a school system adequate to the needs of increasing student enrollment."

She went on to say that the justices "recognize the emotional nature of the case" but that their "duty goes no further than to determine the legal authority for implementing mandatory year-round schools, not the wisdom of such a decision."

Justice Robert Edmunds Jr. wrote in a concurring opinion that parents who object could seek to have their children reassigned from a year-round school. Edmunds said if voters don't like the school board's decision, they could vote board member out of office.

There will be four open seats on the school board in October.

Wake school board Chairwoman Rosa Gill said Friday that with the Supreme Court's decision, the school system can move forward with doing what is best for students.

"It's not a win or lose type of decision, because we want to provide the best education possible," she said. "I see this as giving us the option to address the needs of our schools."

Patrice Lee, a member of WakeCARES, said the group is disappointed by the decision, saying parental input in student assignment has been further limited.

"While we were not successful in getting the 'pot of gold' at the end of the rainbow, we were able to expose the true colors of the WCPSS and the administration," she said in a written statement.

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.

WakeCARES 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 ruling left the school system scrambled to get out permission forms before the school year began.

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.

Last May, 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.

The school system, however, has continued seeking parental consent until the Supreme Court's ruling.

Gill said Friday no decisions have been made about how to proceed with the ruling in place. The school board meets on Tuesday.

"It's going to be a board decision on what to do," she said.

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  • Nancy May 1, 2009

    With such a strong emphasis on sports and extra curricular options at high schools, I don't see them ever going year round. It would be difficult to keep a team together or a marching band together.

    So when parents have kids in high school and other kids still in year round, the schedules for the family become more unstable and less family vacation time can be accomplished.

    The year round option was not for the benefit of a better education as it was strictly for capacity sake as the county grew.

    But the planning is horrible. Opening schools over capacity on day one shows that someone can't determine how to gather growth data to plan properly for adequate school facilities.

  • wakeresident May 1, 2009

    Also, for those of you talking about how many more students go to year round, you should really look up how many seats were created at each school when they converted. It was certainly not enough to impress me. I think one school averaged 2 people per grade? The numbers showed me it wasn't that impressive.

  • wakeresident May 1, 2009

    "I'm hearing people doing a lot of complaining. But I have yet to read one post where a Pro-Traditional(Old School) parent gave good reasons how Traditional is better for their child's education. Its a fact that Traditional has to spend a few weeks reviewing at the beginning of each year. It is a fact that YR does very little reviewing, except before the EOG's."

    As a math tutor to several year round students, I have found that the first week they do a lot of reviewing and the last week they do nothing at all. I have stopped tutoring the week before track out and the first week back in because my students never have new material. That's four weeks of review and four weeks of lazy kids counting down until yet another long break. My traditional students spend less than two weeks on review and when short breaks (fall or spring) come up, they don't waste the entire week. Overall, my traditional students get more done in math.

  • Hey yuall May 1, 2009

    Whatelseisnew.....I have 2 children who have graduated with engineering degrees in the past couple of years and 2 more on their way. They are all products of Wake County Public schools-both traditional AND year-round. I don't consider what we have in this county a failed system at all! Are you willing to run for the school board? If not, hush!

  • iumat21 May 1, 2009

    Thank goodness. This will save Wake County money and as many people have already predicted, Middle and High Schools will now be able to be put on year-round calendars with more ease.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 1, 2009

    Rev. RB: "This just proves what I've been saying for decades, WCPSS doesn't care about children. Praying for these families."

    I believe your prayers are misdirected. The WCPSS does care about the children's education. That's why YR was brought about. Without it, we wouldn't have enough schools and would have many more trailers sitting behind schools than we already do now. You're basically praying for parents that care more about leisure time than classroom time.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 1, 2009

    This is my 9th year having kids in YR. They started from day 1 in Kindergarten. And I have NEVER had ANY regrets for that decision. It was a smart decision, if I can say so myself. YR students get a great education and get short breaks exactly when they need them. I'm hearing people doing a lot of complaining. But I have yet to read one post where a Pro-Traditional(Old School) parent gave good reasons how Traditional is better for their child's education. Its a fact that Traditional has to spend a few weeks reviewing at the beginning of each year. It is a fact that YR does very little reviewing, except before the EOG's. That difference means my YR students get more instructional time on new material. I do hate that people are forced into YR. Because these parents, and teachers, will do nothing but be a cancer in my child's YR education.

  • scoutmomof2 May 1, 2009

    All schools should go to year round especially given the recession. Then all teachers can truly be 12 month employees with their checks. I wish my kids had the option when they went to school to be in year round.

  • nsanity May 1, 2009

    I think that year round is a great idea. Your child has the opportunity to get breaks during the year and not lose what they have learned over 3 empty months of "chillaxing." Although I understand that parents are upset over having children on different tracks, so many people move to Wake County that it is a hard job keeping schools balanced. Wake County has done a pretty good job of making sure that there isn't the "bad" school vs the "good" school. They have tried to mix the population socio-economically which is important. I think that all schools should become yearround. And high schools can be included (ex. SE Raleigh).

  • AX May 1, 2009

    I agree with you Ainjeh!

    People just don't think about the costs of traditional schools in such a fast-growing county. I don't understand the logic of having a full summer off, with kids more likely to get into trouble, sit around the house all day getting fat and lazy, or why kids shouldn't see school as their first FULL TIME job--albeit without pay. The four season, two-week long vacations allow for planning a variety of activities, and not just for going the beach in the summer.

    HOG WASH, typical lazy parent... you allow your kids to "get into trouble during the summer"?? You actually allow your kids to sit around being lazy like you getting fat?? Please come on! If youre gonna do the pleasurable part of creating children, do the afterwork also !

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