Margiotta suggests dividing school district

Posted March 11, 2010 10:13 p.m. EST
Updated March 12, 2010 8:21 a.m. EST

— Wake County school board Chairman Ron Margiotta said within two years, students will be assigned to schools closer to their homes. Though determined, he is aware that changes to the county’s student diversity policy won’t come without a fight.

“We are going to have a new court case every week. Everything is going to be challenged in the courts,” Margiotta said Thursday at the Northern Wake Republican Club.

Last week, the school board voted in favor of a resolution to move away from the school system's longstanding diversity policy, which buses students so that no school has more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches.

Critics of the plan argue, in part, that it will segregate poor students and keep them from receiving the same quality of education as more advantaged students. School board members, however, have insisted that they have no plans to segregate students and that student achievement is their top priority.

On Thursday, Margiotta also mentioned the possibility of dividing the district into pieces.

“There is a big difference in what goes on in Zebulon and what goes on in the southwestern part of Cary,” he said. “They should have their own school districts or, at least, assignment zones and have a certain amount of autonomy.”

Recently the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People joined the state chapter on Tuesday in calling for Margiotta’s resignation after comments he made during a heated public hearing on March 2.

Margiotta could be heard saying, “Here come the animals out of their cages," during the meeting on the school system’s assignment policy. He said he was referring to people in the crowd being disrespectful as his friend, who is black, was speaking.

Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, says the comment by Margiotta is evidence of "racist attitudes" on the board.

Margiotta has said he will only leave if voters remove him.