Wake County Schools

Wake superintendent takes lead in student assignment plan

Posted February 15, 2011 1:09 p.m. EST
Updated February 15, 2011 10:50 p.m. EST

— The Wake County Board of Education moved Tuesday to disband its Student Assignment Committee and await input from the new superintendent on how students are assigned to schools across the county.

The board has been considering the issue in groups both large and small since they voted 5-4 a year ago to end the long-held policy of busing students to limit the proportion of low-income students in any given school. The board majority was elected in November 2009 on a promise to make that change.

Assignment committee chair and neighborhood schools advocate John Tedesco kept his update Tuesday to the board in a work session brief.

"I'd like to recommend that we suspend the ad hoc assignment committee at this time," he said.

Tedesco noted the hire of Superintendent Tony Tata, who has said he wants some say in developing a long-term plan for student assignment and new input from community groups, including a proposal Friday from the Wake Education Partnership and Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce that provides more parental choice and naturally fosters diversity.

"Choice is a good thing. School choice is a good thing," Tedesco said.

Board member Keith Sutton, a member of the minority who have defended the long-standing policy of busing for diversity, said the proposal was a good start.

"It is a good start. I think it provides a good framework," Sutton said.

Tedesco suggested that the board allow time for Tata and his team to "evaluate that plan significantly and provide recommendations."

Tata said Tuesday that it is his responsibility as superintendent to develop a plan that conforms to the school system's student assignment policy.

He expects that he can synthesize the work of Tedesco's committee along with community input and the Chamber's plan in developing a policy by late spring.

“I am committing members of my staff,” he said. “I am going to pull them out of their jobs, and we are going to create a task force, and we are going to move forward and present to the board a plan that will endure over time.”

Tim Simmons, vice president of communications for WakeEd welcomed the news.

"We are pleased to see they are willing to take the framework and work with it,” he said. “What we requested was that the board move the framework to the superintendent and his staff for review, and that appears to be what has happened."