"All voters, parents, teachers, students and anyone interested in improving Wake County Schools should study this thorough, thoughtful and professional report. It is a sad confirmation of our position but what is sadder is the majority of the board continuing to fight against policies designed to provide every child a high quality, constitutional, well funded, diverse public education" said NC NAACP President Dr. William J. Barber II.
AdvancED announced Wednesday that it's put Wake County on "warned" status after a visit by investigators in February. A letter accompanying the report said there are "significant challenges facing Wake County Public Schools." The report claims some school board members have ignored evidence that "the school system was experiencing positive gains related to student achievement," before they were elected.
The announcement is significant to students and their families because many colleges use accreditation to sift applicants. It's also a factor in some scholarships.
Wake County Publics Schools now has until November to make corrections that include developing a clear strategic plan. If it doesn't, it could lose accreditation.
AdvancED notified Wake County it planned to investigate last year after a new majority on the school board moved to do away with the district's student assignment policy that favored diversity to instead implement a plan to send students to schools closer to their homes.
The NAACP filed complaints with AdvancED, the U.S. Justice Department, and the Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education. The federal complaints are based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964, saying that Wake's new policies violate that law which says that the recipients of federal funds cannot discriminate on basis of race, color, or national origin.
In its report, AdvancED accuses five members of the school board - John Tedesco, Chris Malone, Debra Goldman, Deborah Prickett, and Chairman Ron Margiotta - of launching a "premeditated attack that resulted in destabilizing the school system and community" as they moved to push their agenda.
"In fact, throughout the interview process, it became very evident that Board members were shaping policy based on their personal experiences rather than relying on objective data and evidence reflecting the system as a whole. Adopting new policies without sound reasoning and reliable data has caused a breakdown within the Board and among the community," says the report.
The results of the AdvancED review were presented to board members and new superintendant Tony Tata Wednesday morning. Tata said while he disagreed with some of the characterizations, the district is already making progress on many of the recommendations.
"I welcome this input as I continue my listening tour of Wake County. We are already attacking many of the recommendations and intend to aggressively implement all of them," Tata said in a statement.
Wake school leaders have also been interviewed by federal investigators this week. More meetings are expected next month. It's not clear when the federal probe will wrap up.