Wake County Schools

D.C. school official being considered for Wake schools chief

Posted December 22, 2010 6:41 p.m. EST
Updated December 23, 2010 2:14 p.m. EST

— A former U.S. Army officer and a leader in the Washington, D.C. school system is among the candidates being considered to take over the reins of the Wake County Public School System, according to a statement from his most recent employer.

Anthony Tata, a former brigadier general and author, currently serves as the chief operating officer for District of Columbia Public Schools, where he oversees purchasing, food service, technology and other support areas for the school system.

In a statement issued Thursday, a D.C. schools spokeswoman said: "Mr. Tata has been a part of DCPS’ executive cabinet since June 2009 and is a well-qualified candidate. His candidacy is a testament to the quality and talent of DCPS’ management team, and speaks to his wealth of experience."

According to his website, Tata retired in June 2009 after a 28-year military career that included service as a commander of a paratrooper battalion in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg.

He is a 1981 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and also a graduate of The Catholic University of America and Harvard University.

The Wake County Board of Education, which has been searching for months for a replacement for former Superintendent Del Burns, is expected to meet Thursday afternoon in a closed meeting to talk about the search.

A public meeting notice issued Tuesday afternoon lists the sole agenda item for the 4:30 p.m. meeting as a “recommendation for administrative appointment.”

Although there’s been no indication, the timing of the meeting – right before Christmas – adds to public speculation that the board could be close to naming a new superintendent on Thursday.

Whoever gets the job will be the eighth superintendent of the Wake County school system and will take over at a time when North Carolina’s largest school district is facing high student enrollment, millions of dollars in funding cuts and challenges to a controversial student assignment proposal.

The school system says it is expecting a $70 million to $100 million budget shortfall due to a lack of county, state and federal funding. At the same time, officials expect an additional 4,100 students either enrolled in public schools or attending local charter schools.

Concerns about a neighborhood schools assignment policy have prompted federal officials to investigate whether students’ civil rights would be violated when the district moves away from its long-standing policy of busing students for socio-economic diversity.