School officials meet with civil rights investigators

March 16, 2011 5:06:43 PM PDT
Wake County school officials met with investigators with the Office of Civil Rights Wednesday as part of an investigation that stems from a complaint filed by the NAACP.

Investigators are trying to determine how students were assigned to schools under the old diversity policy and how the school board majority's move to community school s might impact students.

Several meetings with Laura Evans from the Growth and Planning Department, Superintendent Tony Tata and former members of the school board's Student Assignment Committee were scheduled Wednesday and will continue Thursday.

Investigators also are expected to meet with the NAACP on Thursday morning and school board members next month.

The NAACP has continued to express concern over the Wake County Public School System's decision to end the county's nationally recognized socio-economic diversity policy.

NC NAACP President William Barber has argued that a community-based school assignment plan would move toward school re-segregation.

Last September, the organization announced it had filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department and the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying that the policies would violate that law, which states that the recipients of federal funds cannot discriminate on basis of race, color or national origin.

Then last month, Tata -- who works for the school board that has conservative members pushing for the community schools policy -- formally requested the responsibility to create a new school/student assignment plan.

He handpicked six school system personnel to form a task force who has the responsibility of taking plans submitted by the Wake Education Partnership and The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and other plans discussed during a listening tour, to create a long-term student assignment plan by late spring. The group is also addressing under-enrolled schools and bringing monthly updates to the board for input.

Since then, Tata and Barber have met privately to discuss how they can work together to increase student achievement for all children in Wake County.

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