Board meeting turns heated over assignments

December 14, 2010 9:04:08 PM PST
The Wake County school board spent several hours Tuesday discussing changes to the final year of the current student assignment plan.Most of the meeting dealt with determining which nodes to re-assign next year, but the discussion turned heated before the board even got started.

"I would like to ask the board to bring back those items that were taken off the agenda at our last meeting," School Board Chair Ron Margiotta said.

Margiotta was not present at last week's meeting when board members voted to stop any consideration of changes that could have potentially moved thousands of southeast Raleigh students closer to home.

School Board Member Keith Sutton says the move would have impacted a large number of African American students, so when Margiotta brought up the issue again, Sutton voiced his opposition.

"We have promised a neighborhood assignment and to a great extent the public is tired of waiting," Margiotta said.

"It just didn't seem the prudent thing to do," Sutton replied. "We'd already voted on it last week for it to be taken off the table, so it needed to stay that way."

School Board Vice Chair Debra Goldman joined the minority in voting it down, citing concerns over who was behind the requests.

"Are those recommendations being made by people with regards to their own children, or are they being made in regards to other people's children," she said.

Margiotta says the changes involve a lot more than just southeast Raleigh and the board's decision to take them out of consideration could have broader implications.

"It means that we're not going to have as many changes made in this assignment year as we'd like to have had," Margiotta said. "We're going to have to wait another year, we have an election in October and that will be a determining factor."

Despite the debate, there are a number of other changes the board did agree on.

Parents who might be affected by the changes will be notified so they can share their thoughts at one of several community engagement hearings set for next month.

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