Wake County Schools

Wake County superintendent will meet with NAACP

Posted February 4, 2011 5:32 p.m. EST
Updated February 4, 2011 5:46 p.m. EST

— Wake County's new school superintendent accepted an invitation from the state NAACP on Friday to talk about diversity and the controversial move away from the district’s longstanding practice of busing students.

The civil rights group sent a letter Wednesday to Tony Tata, stating its concerns about high-quality and constitutional educational opportunities for all students enrolled in the Wake County Public School System.

“We trust we can establish a strong working relationship as we address the critical problems many children in the Wake County Schools face,” state NAACP President Rev. William Barber wrote.

No date has been set for the meeting.

Barber said his group will not stand for segregation in schools – something many opponents to the school system’s new student assignment policy fear will happen.

The school board voted last year to remove socio-economic diversity as a factor when determining students’ placements in school and to, instead, look at proximity to their homes.

But the NAACP and others fear the move will create pockets of poverty in the school district and keep poor students from receiving the same quality of education as their counterparts.

The new student assignment policy isn’t expected to go into effect until the 2012-13 school year, but critics and some board members say recent assignment changes for 2011-12 will place thousands of low-income students back into high-poverty schools.

Tata, who started work Monday, has said that increasing student achievement and preparing students to be competitive in a global economy will be his priorities as school superintendent.

He also has said that he thinks maintaining diversity in Wake schools is important, but he said he needs more time to look at the issue before deciding how that should be achieved.