Wake school board passes resolution on neighborhood schools :: WRAL.com

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wake school board passes resolution on neighborhood schools :: WRAL.com

Raleigh, N.C. — The Wake County Board of Education voted Tuesday to end its long-standing diversity policy in student assignment in favor of a neighborhood schools concept.
By a 5-4 vote, the board approved a resolution to begin planning for the phase out of the policy. The move will allow students to go to schools closer to home, regardless of the socio-economic makeup of the student body.
WATCH VIDEOWake board votes to phase out diversity policy
Reassigning students to ensure schools had no more than 40 percent of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches has been controversial for years. It was a key point in last year's election, in which voters elected four candidates who said they supported changing the policy in favor of neighborhood schools.
School board member Anne McLaurin said Tuesday before the vote that the resolution called for additional research, public feedback and financial cost analysis.
"We have not done any of these things,” she said.
School board member John Tedesco argued the resolution was only a direction and that more discussion would follow.
“We are going to have opportunities to have our committees and our communities participate in that process,” he added.
Read more about Tuesday's school board meeting.
After hearing from dozens of people who signed up to speak before the board, Tedesco joined board Chairman Ron Margiotta and members Deborah Prickett, Chris Malone and Debra Goldman in voting in favor of the resolution, while McLaurin and board members Keith Sutton, Kevin Hill and Carolyn Morrison voted against it.
Those in the crowd opposed to the vote joined in an impromptu rally led by the Rev. William Barber, the state's NAACP president.
Barber has threatened to sue the board if it moves away from the diversity policy. He says research shows schools with large majorities of poor children fail because they are underfunded, have a high teacher turnover and low student performance.
Barber and supporters of the diversity policy said neighborhood schools is a move toward re-segregation.
Margiotta, who broke the tie and passed the resolution, said the district's new direction will not segregate students.
"We have laws, we have court rulings, and we have morality. It is something that would never be tolerated by anyone on the school board,” he said.
Barber said he will be watching the school board’s proceedings closely.
"We are not going anywhere. We are not going anywhere,” he said.
The resolution calls for a second and final vote, which will be taken at the next school board meeting.

Reporter: Adam Owens


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