Wake County Schools

Wake County parents voice concerns over student-assignment zones

Posted September 13, 2010 9:45 p.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2010 4:32 p.m. EDT

Wake County Public School System

— Wake County parents are getting their first look at a map considered a starting point for a community-based assignment system that will not consider the decade-old policy of seeking socioeconomic diversity in all schools.

The school board's Student Assignment Committee came up with the student-assignment zones, which are based on high schools and larger "regions."

In the Lochmere community of Cary, some parents say the zones aren’t giving them a community-based model. They say children in their community who have attended Athens Drive High School together for years would be split up into three different schools.

"That is what I am not happy about because it wouldn't feel like a community school anymore,” parent Gay Purvis said Monday.

The concern over the assignment zones is the latest rumblings of discontent toward the school board, which has dealt with protests from the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and a number of community groups over its move away from the diversity policy.

Opponents fear the change will lead to re-segregation, high teacher turnover and poor students receiving a lower quality of education than their economically advantaged counterparts.

Five of the school board's nine members disagree and believe the move, still months away, will help improve test scores and give parents more chances to be involved in their students' education. The map of student-assignment zones is their first step toward a community-based assignment system.

"The concept is good, executing it I think is difficult,” said parent Mary Ann Meagher, who is in support of community-based schools.

School board co-chairwoman Debra Goldman said she has been getting calls and e-mails from parents concerned that the newly created student-assignment zones split up neighborhoods.

"That concern is a valid concern,” Goldman said. "I don't like to see any neighborhood split up."

However, Goldman said the map is the beginning of a long process. She said assignment lines are fluid and can be changed to flow in different directions.

"They (board members) are aware of errors and tweaks that have to be made in those lines,” Goldman said.

Public forums are planned for parents to voice their concerns on the student-assignment zones. Parents can also view the zones online on the Wake County Public School System website.