Wake school board split over moves

December 7, 2010 8:57:47 PM PST
Wake County's reassignment debate is once again focusing on poverty and race.On Tuesday, the school board decided not to consider moving thousands of southeast Raleigh students to schools closer to home next year.

The debate is over whether suburban families asked that southeast Raleigh kids be moved out of their schools or whether southeast Raleigh and Garner area parents are asking for their kids to come back home.

Keith Sutton is the board member who suggested the board not consider moving thousands of southeast Raleigh students next school year and wanted to know who's really asking for the moves proposed just last week.

"I don't know if that's what you're hearing from your communities, 'get the black kids out of our neighborhood, out of our schools,' because certainly families from southeast Raleigh, certainly African American families did not ask for these moves."

"When a parent emails me, I don't know the color of their skin," Wake County School Board Member Deborah Prickett said. "I don't ask that question."

"I'm asking for hundreds of kids who live in the poorest part of Garner to come back home to Garner and I know what those nodes look like," Wake County School Board Member John Tedesco said. "They look like 80 to 90 percent African American families and you know what they say to me all the time, 'Mr. Tedesco, I just want to go to school across the street.'"

But sending those kids to schools closer to home, Sutton says, will lead to segregated high poverty schools.

"Integration, re-segregation, whatever you want to call it, would be irresponsible and downright stupid for us to do that," Sutton said.

Some of the students might still be considered as the board looks at schools that are 25 percent empty.

Meanwhile, another debate started to brew at Tuesday's meeting when several people came to Tuesday's meeting hoping to weigh-in on the reassignment changes. However, they learned the board chair decided the night before that the board won't hear public comment on the issue, because they'll be holding public hearings next month.

While board policy says they can do that, concerned parents and students feel it violates their rights to free speech.

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