'More to do' on Wake diversity policy

Posted February 24, 2010 9:02 a.m. EST
Updated February 24, 2010 5:44 p.m. EST

Wake County Public School System

— Academic achievement, proximity and parental involvement should be among the important considerations in how students are assigned to schools in Wake County, board members discussed Wednesday.

Still, the Wake County school board's three-member policy committee in a 2-1 vote rejected potential changes to the school system's diversity policy, with one member saying more work is needed.

Board member Chris Malone made a motion to adopt the amended assignment policy, which would eliminate socio-economic diversity as a priority for student assignment and to replace it with a preference for community-based schools.

His move was met with silence.

"I'm not 100 percent on that wording, and I believe every person involved has value and opinions and thoughts that are valuable," board member Debra Goldman said. "I feel like we have not done the vetting."

Goldman, who is in favor of changing the policy, says the decision is too controversial and that although she wrote the amended policy, there needs to be more research on both sides.

"There is more work to do," she said.

Five of the school board's nine members have indicated that they want to end the practice, which can involve busing students to schools farther from their homes, in favor of neighborhood schools.

Board members who support the policy say changing the current plan in favor of neighborhood schools would disrupt diversity at schools.

"If we care so much about these students, then why do we want to write them out of the policy?" board member Keith Sutton asked members.

A separate proposal from Sutton would keep the diversity requirements in and also attempt to keep students closer to home.

"By completely striking them out, you are not considering them," he said. "They are not a factor."

In a series of community meetings over the past few weeks, parents have spoken out both in favor and opposed to change.

A final public forum on the issue is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Panther Creek High School, 6770 McCrimmon Parkway, in Cary.