OCR hears criticism of Wake school plan

Office of Civil Rights forum

May 4, 2011 8:19:11 PM PDT
A panel of federal education officials listened intently to the more than two dozen speakers who shared their thoughts on the actions of the Wake County school board.

The state NAACP filed a complaint against five of the board members last fall, accusing them of engaging in racial discrimination in the board's move toward establishing community based schools. That criticism was echoed Wednesday night by most of those who came out to address Office of Civil Rights representatives.

"The neighborhoods we live in are not economically or racially diverse," said David LaMotte, NC Council of Churches. "Therefore, neighborhood schools mean that we have segregated schools."

Parent Amy Lee agreed saying, "The majority members of our board of education are systematically dividing our schools into have and have-nots."

A handful of speakers praised the current school board for doing away with socioeconomic diversity in student assignment -- a policy board members feel wasn't working and needed to be changed.

Raleigh resident Jeryl Mooneyham believes the board made the right decision. "I'm sorry Rev. Barber, it's hard for me to understand how a policy that results in failure can be called a success," Mooneyham said.

Meanwhile, parent Joe Ciulla, wants the focus to remain on the facts.

"Please focus on sorting through what are the facts, what are the accusations, versus what are the emotions," Ciulla said.

At least one school board member expressed concern over the choice of Martin Street Baptist Church for the meeting.

The church has been the location of many NAACP vigils and protests against the board, but Barber told ABC11 Eyewitness News he feels the concern was misguided, since Wednesday's meeting was a forum open to everyone.

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