Perdue catching heat for comments in WCPSS debate

WAKE COUNTY Over the weekend, Perdue bestowed the state's highest honor on the most outspoken critic of the board majority -- NAACP President Reverend William Barber.

In her comments while awarding him the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his courage, she specifically referenced Barber's work with the Wake County School Board.

"I was completely shocked and appalled," said Kathleen Brennan with Wake Cares.

Wake Cares is a community group that says it worked hard to get the new school board majority elected to stop annual reassignments, mandatory year-round schools and end the diversity policy -- which Brennan says she feels wasn't helping lower income students succeed.

It is the same diversity policy Rev. Barber is fighting to have re-instated. He's rallied, protested and has been arrested at the Wake County school board office twice to stop the move toward community schools, fearing it will lead to re-segregation. Some say he has even referred to the new board majority the anti-diversity gang of five.

"For the highest elected official in the state to give someone an award who is trying to undermine what these officials are elected to do, I just frankly don't understand that," Brennan said.

The Governor even recognized during the ceremony that Barber's courage draws criticism.

"When one does what one believes in and is not afraid to rock the boat, one also has enemies everywhere," Perdue said.

But some groups, like the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, have been working with the NAACP to stop some of the sweeping changes by the board majority.

"I think anyone who speaks out like that, I think deserves to be noted by the community as an advocate for all children," said Patty Williams with Great Schools in Wake Coalition.

ABC11 Eyewitness News reached out to members of the board majority -- who Reverend Barber has called out by name on a regular basis -- those who did return calls said they felt the award is a political move and they did not want to comment.

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