Wake County Schools

Wake County leaders concerned after Tata's dismissal

Posted October 2, 2012

— The Wake County Board of Education met Tuesday to begin the process of finding a permanent replacement for former Superintendent Tony Tata, who was fired a week ago in a controversial move that now brings up new questions about the school system's future, specifically a school construction bond and whether the board will be able to work on it with county leaders.

"There might be a little tension between the two boards," school board chairman Kevin Hill said Tuesday during a break between the board's 2 p.m. work session and 5:30 p.m. public meeting.

The comment comes after a letter from the Wake County Board of Commissioners' chairman, Paul Coble, informing Hill that he put on hold talks with the school board about the bond.

Coble said in the Sept. 28 letter that he also won't consider any meetings about the matter until the Democratic-controlled school board finishes its work on what he sees as a new student assignment plan as well as two other projects spearheaded by Tata in which the county was involved.

"The recent decision … to fire the superintendent raises serious concerns about the direction, leadership and consistency of the Wake County Public School System," Coble, a Republican, wrote. "Clearly, the new majority wants to set its own course, which leaves existing potential partnerships 'up in the air.'"

"Partnerships work only when each partner can rely on and trust the actions and consistency of the other partner," Coble added.

A construction bond is needed to help the school district accommodate the growing student population. Currently, about one in three schools is over capacity. As recently as July, Tata estimated a need for about three new schools a year.

Wake County school board member Debra Goldman Wake school construction talks on hold after Tata's firing

Coble said in an interview with WRAL News, that without a superintendent, with division on the board and with no clear assignment plan, county commissioners want to be sure that they are not "left holding the financial bag."

"We will honor our commitments, and we just want (the school board) to honor theirs, Coble said. "It makes no sense to have meetings when you have a board at odds with itself."

School board Vice Chairman Keith Sutton said that although Coble is entitled to his opinion, he is disappointed that a proposed Oct. 12 meeting between the two boards won't happen.

"I can appreciate their need to get some level of commitment from us," Sutton said. "We'll continue working on the information (commissioners have requested)."

"I think, for the interest of this community and our kids, there has to be a meeting of the minds," board member Christine Kushner said. "We have needs in our school system. The county commissioners have their views, and I think we have to open communication."

Republican board members support Coble's letter.

"I think Paul Coble was spot on and well within his purview," Debra Goldman said. "I think he's right in what he's doing, because quite frankly, right now, I wouldn't trust this board with a bond issue or anything else."

"I think it's appropriate for him to ask, 'What's going on with this rudderless ship now?'" John Tedesco said. "It is completely appropriate, and it is his fiduciary responsibility to our taxpayers to ask these kinds of questions."

Although it is nominally nonpartisan, the issue of how to assign students to schools has divided the school board for years along party lines.

A Republican majority, elected in November 2009, ended the decade-old policy of busing students so that no school would serve a disproportionately financially disadvantaged student population.

Opponents complained that resulted in long bus rides and frequent reassignments. The board then hired Tata in 2010, who implemented a three-year plan dubbed "controlled choice," which went into effect this school year.

In June however, the Democratic board majority decided to revise the plan. They met on Saturday for a special session. Republican board members were absent; some said they had prior commitments.

The board majority discussed at length on Saturday whether to start from scratch in developing school attendance zones and high school feeder patterns or whether to build on the work already done.


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  • healls Oct 9, 2012

    I don't know any parent, Republican or Democrat, who supported the decision to fire Tata. These board members ought to be ashamed of themselves. They're playing politics with our children's eduction and future. Grow up!

  • Sherlock Oct 3, 2012

    There is no leadership on the boards, just individuals that want their own way ort friends way, they are concerened about students or the community.

  • ericevenson Oct 2, 2012

    Wow. Looks like Wake County lost a really good leader that many, many people wanted to keep. Not good folks.

  • flashyswife Oct 2, 2012

    This would not have happened if you voted Losurdo in!

  • Moose is loose Oct 2, 2012

    The Wake County Commissioners should go through the school's budget line by line and cut the waste. The school board think they have carte blanche to spend as they please, including dismissing a Superintendent who didn't have time to prove himself. Shame on the Wake County School Board!!! So says a 58 year old life long resident of Wake County!!

  • affirmativediversity Oct 2, 2012

    ""Partnerships work only when each partner can rely on and trust the actions and consistency of the other partner," Coble added."


    Oh now there's a novel concept...

  • Screw WrAl Oct 2, 2012

    Kevin Hill, "You were elected by citizens and you can also be voted out."

    No, he can't. His district had their chance and they blew it. They, and we, are stuck with his politics for a while. Those who allowed it to happen deserve every moment of grief they get too.

  • Screw WrAl Oct 2, 2012

    Not concerned, flat out done with.

    This school board will be thrown out on their backsides soon. Something big is 'bout to happen.

  • westernwake1 Oct 2, 2012

    Remember when the Democrats were elected they stated that they would not fire Tata and would not go back to busing for Diversity. Well, not only were they partisan - they were also less than truthful, this past week they fired Tata and this meeting is part two of the shoe dropping. Vice Chairman Keith Sutton spent most of his time in the Saturday meeting outlining the need ship students out of Southeast Raleigh and the requirement to backfill them with students bussed in from western Wake. The other 4 board members spent their time agreeing with him, quoting the need to get back to diversity.

    While other issues such as feeder patterns and partial caps were discussed on Saturday, it is pretty clear the board is marching as quickly as possible back to a bussing for diversity plan.

    BTW, you know those new base school assignments on the web - they are now meaningless and will be changed according to the Democratic board.

  • Bartmeister Oct 2, 2012

    Whatta joke the school board is.