Sheriff, mayors take on Wake leaders

February 26, 2008 5:55:16 PM PST
Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison is insulted by a form guest speakers are required to sign before addressing students in Wake county schools.

"To me it's just a slap in my face," Harrison said.

Harrison told Eyewitness News that he refused to sign the form but he still spoke with students at one school. He says administrators at another school said they would find someone else to speak if he wouldn't sign the form. He said they later called him back and said they'd work around it.

"I'm not gonna sign it. I'm an elected official. I'm honest. I'm the Sheriff of this county, I can go into any school I want to so why would I want to sign it."

School leaders came up with the guidelines for guest speakers, after a controversial Christian speaker at Enloe High School denounced Islam. A year ago this week, teacher Robert Escamilla was suspended then transferred to another school.

The form asks speakers to agree to not denigrate any culture, race, gender or religion. The information that they're telling students must be accurate and factual. They're also told that appropriate attire, language and behavior is required.

Harrison says he swore to do all those things when he took office, that's why he won't sign the form. "It's the principle behind it," Harrison says. "It says here accurate and factual information. That's all I'm going to do. I've been honest ever since I've been in this chair."

Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles thinks it's an insult too.

"I'd love to see them ask a house of representative member or a member of senate."

Eagles says he wasn't asked to sign a form when he recently spoke to students.

Neither was Wake Forest's mayor.

Both agree with the Sheriff and Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly, who wrote the Wake County superintendent, calling the form an overreaction. Weatherly asked school leaders to reconsider their policy especially when it comes to elected officials.

Eagles wants to see changes too. "If I've got to sign a form, I, as the Mayor of Rolesville will not be speaking to Wake County schools."

Harrison added it should be a case by case basis. "How embarrassing would it be to ask the president of the United States. He comes down to schools or has been to some of our schools."

Mayors plan to ask the school board chair to consider changing the policy when they meet with her on Thursday.


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