Wake County Schools

Wake school board rejects mediation in case against protesters

Posted January 18, 2012 1:29 p.m. EST

— The Wake County Board of Education has not changed its mind about criminal action against four protesters who brought a school board meeting to a standstill in June 2010.

Ann Majestic, an attorney representing the board, said Wednesday that the board members voted last week not to revisit the idea of mediation with the demonstrators, clearing the way for the Wake County District Attorney's Office to move forward with prosecuting them.

The four charged, including state NAACP President Rev. William Barber, were expressing their opposition to the board's controversial decision to move away from its longstanding practice of busing students for socio-economic diversity purposes for a student assignment plan that, supporters say, promotes stability and neighborhood schools.

Barber, Duke University professor Timothy Tyson, Rev. Nancy Petty and Mary Dobbin Williams were each charged with second-degree trespassing following the June 15 demonstration and were subsequently barred from school property.

Last year, the district attorney asked if the school board would be interested in mediation rather than pursuing the criminal charges.

Former board Chairman Ron Margiotta said in an interview last month that mediation would amount to nothing more than a "slap on the wrist" and that the four "crossed the line of civil disobedience" and needed to be punished.

With new school board members, the district attorney's office wanted to be sure that the board had not changed its position on the matter, Majestic said.