Wake County Schools

Wake schools chief candidates meet community

Posted May 28, 2013

— Three final candidates hoping to lead the state's largest school district as superintendent answered questions from the public Tuesday in a community forum at Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh.

Dr. Dana Bedden, superintendent of the Irving Independent School System in Irving, Texas; Ann Clark, deputy superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; and Dr. James Merrill, superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools in Virginia Beach, Va., were culled from about two dozen applicants to replace Tony Tata, who was ousted in September.

The candidates spoke candidly about the issues facing Wake County schools and the steps they would take to lead the district into the future. The next superintendent will have to work with county commissioners on an $810 million bond issue for school construction at a time when tensions between commissioners and the school board are running high.

"I think it's a matter of rebuilding relationships (and) making sure we keep open lines of communication," Bedden said.

Clark said she would work to get the focus back on students, not elected officials.

Dr. James Merrill Wake superintendent finalists field public's questions

Merrill said he would strive to keep politics from affecting education.

"Let the politics take care of themselves. Is it a little more vociferous right now than normal? Yes, but that goes in cycles," he said.

Before the forum, Bedden, Clark and Merrill toured district schools and met with staff. On Wednesday, the candidates will meet with the Board of Education for a final interview.

The school board said Tuesday that it hopes to make a hiring decision next month. If that timetable pans out, the new superintendent would take office by August 1, one month later than the board initially planned.


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  • injameswetrust2003 May 29, 2013

    Civil...I guess spelling wasn't 'an' high priority while he was your 'adminstor'...

    The school board will choose the person who has already drank the 'wake way' kool-aid and will do things the way they want. I was disappointed to see Bill Fletcher back on the board, although that was another predictable appointment.

  • Civil4Mind May 29, 2013


    Actually 1 of them have taught in Wake county public school system for 10 years and was a award winning administor with us.

    I think they are excellent canidates. I have read both of the males history and resume and bio. The programs they have initiated effected scores in both sectors. In Texas they jumped 40%. As far as whatever list your looking at both were awarded for being they excellent Superintendents. Managing to maintain huge budgets for the public school system with our economy the way it is, thats a great defeat. With WCPSS constant budget cuts and layoffs we will need someone with a more knowledge in that area.

    I think people are prejudging and not knowing their accomplishments.

  • markjb33 May 29, 2013

    Hmm, no one local. Ok I get it, they want a new face. However, by not going with someone local, you waste time in getting them up to speed with everything, including the heavily partisan biased school board.
    It would be nice, if whoever comes out of this, that they fire the whole school board and either have us vote, county wide, for new people, or name new members.

  • raleighboy524 May 29, 2013

    "This is further evidence that the school board should be dissolved and be taken over by a private organization or at the very least the county commissioners. -- pappybigtuna1"

    I couldn't agree more, especially with the private option. The revolving door of hiring, firing and hiring again new superintendents is a symptom of the problem. Full privatization of schools deserves a chance. Put another way, the utter failure of the public option has given the private option the chance it deserves. We need government off our backs and out of our lives.

  • pappybigtuna1 May 29, 2013

    Hope you people realize, that any of the three or all three are not leaders, they will or are now token heads for the inept school board, puppets if you will, with a huge "paycheck".

    Think back a little over a year ago, Tata was a leader, no nonsense. He said stuff and meant it. His leadership chaffed the legs of what ever we have as a school board.

    This is further evidence that the school board should be dissolved and be taken over by a private organization or at the very least the county commissioners.

  • pingmanreturns May 29, 2013

    The white guy doesn't stand a chance!

  • That Explains It May 29, 2013

    "Let the politics take care of themselves." Laughable ... absurd, wishful thinking.

    "Is it a little more vociferous right now than normal? Yes, but that goes in cycles," he said." Really??? I take it this gentlemen didn't bother to do his homework and learn anything about Wake County. Pandering statements that reflect a deep ignorance of the facts on the ground are not going to instill confidence in anyone.

  • driverkid3 May 29, 2013

    I'm absolutely SHOCKED they don't have purdue in that line-up.

  • gkgreene May 29, 2013

    ProzacDispenser - Agree that these are pitiful candidates. Not good marks on these applicants school systems - for example, GreatSchools.org gives the Independent School System in Irving Texas a grade of 4 on a scale of 10 - not exactly what one should want for WCPSS

  • me2you May 29, 2013

    Does this position really have any power to make a difference? Seems they are just an Administrative Assistant/Puppet for the school board.