Bills come in after tumultuous school board meeting

Posted July 22, 2010 7:14 p.m. EDT

— The Wake County Public School System paid nearly $2,200 for private security and off-duty police officers to cover Tuesday's school board meeting, a spokesman for the district said Thursday.

Michael Evans, a public information officer for the school system, said private security cost $990 and off-duty officers cost $1,207.50.

The school system won't have to pay for services provided by the Raleigh Police Department. Evans said he's expecting to receive cost estimates on what it would have cost, if the school system did have to pay.

Officers were on hand to maintain crowds protesting the school board's decision to change the way it handles student assignment. Nineteen people were arrested.

Also on Thursday, school board Chairman Ron Margiotta, in a letter, publicly thanked police for their help.

"The officers of the Raleigh Police Department have again demonstrated their professionalism and commitment to their community, and the Wake County Board of Education is grateful for their efforts," Margiotta wrote.

The letter comes a day after school board member Keith Sutton said he thought the number of officers at the meeting only served to incite protest rather than to calm the crowds.

Sutton also said the police department should apologize to him after officers nearly arrested him in a scuffle between police and protesters. School system staff had to intervene before officers let him go.

From July to November of last year, the school system spent $451.58 on security at board meetings.

From December until April, it spent nearly $15,000 on security because of increased public interest, emotional crowds, heated debate and high public turnout at meetings.