Wake superintendent, NAACP leaders meet to tackle racial bullying in schools
Posted May 3
Updated May 4
Raleigh, N.C. — A meeting Wednesday between Wake County Schools leaders and the NAACP was designed to open dialogue after a rash of racially-charged incidents, but some say it got off to a bumpy start when NAACP leaders were kept outside.
Vice President of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP Gerald Givens Jr. said the long-awaited meeting with Superintendent Jim Merrill was hardly the open dialogue he hoped it would be.
Givens and another board member were kept out of the closed-door meeting, despite the fact that the NAACP chapter's President Dr. Portia Rochelle had said she was sick and was running late.
"Prior to this meeting we received no notice that Dr. Rochelle would be the only one permitted to attend this meeting," Givens said. "I don't understand what Dr. Merrill's motive happened to be, but what I do know is that in our organization it's about teamwork."
Dr. Rochelle arrived about 30 minutes late and was ushered into the meeting. About 30 minutes later, Dr. Merrill left without answering questions.
Despite the rocky start, Rochelle said she was ultimately satisfied with the meeting, but expressed deep concerns about the state of race relations within the school system and a growing number of racially charged incidents.
"I'm saying it is a rash, it is frequent," Rochelle said. "Parents call us and say they have issues but a lot of them don't follow through because of retaliation at the school."
Rochelle said she asked Merrill for a clear discipline plan that is enforced system-wide, details on the type of training being done to address recent cases of racial bullying and a re-evaluation of how the schools are using school resource officers. The NAACP also asked for the creation of a committee to develop new policies to prevent discrimination.
Merrill and Rochelle will meet once a quarter.