Board member puts brakes on zone-based schools

Debra Goldman

October 4, 2010 9:00:00 PM PDT
Wake County school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman voted Tuesday night to put a stop to the controversial community assignment zones.

Goldman says she wants to have kids continue going to the schools they're attending right now. She says her preference for "base schools" in the school assignment formula is not included in the board majority's plan. Prior to her decision, the plan for neighborhood schools had a majority of support, which included five Republicans.

Goldman is now on the side of the minority of the board. She introduced a new board directive, which passed 5 to 4, that puts the brakes on the move toward establishing a zone-based assignment model and keeps the diversity plan in place for now.

"I am doing what's in my heart and in my conscious," Goldman said. "We're still moving forward with a different approach."

In recent days, she expressed concern over the way the student assignment committee, headed by school board member John Tedesco, was developing the model -- saying the committee was not being inclusive or taking into account the input of the rest of the board members or community.

"Nobody's adopting, we're making multiple changes," said Tedesco in Tuesday's meeting.

"But you're spinning the wheels without getting any feedback from the board members," Goldman replied.

The neighborhood school model allows students to go to schools that are closest to where they live instead of being bused to schools further away.

Supporters of the busing, or diversity plan, say it's the only way to ensure diverse schools.

Ealier Tuesday, members of a group called NC HEAT, "Heroes Emerging Among Teens.", staged a protest across the street from a Wake County School Board meeting.

"We feel like student voices are important, that students have a lot of opinions that we're worried about accreditation that we don't want segregated schools and all these issues are important and students are going to speak out on them," NC Heat OrganizerElena Everett said.

The protest consisting of about a dozen people -- mostly Wake County high school students -- was a calm event.

At least three of the people who participated are banned from school property after taking part in previous protests that disrupted a school board meeting and ended with arrests.

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