Cary parents worry conflict of interest behind school reassignment plan

Joel Brown Image
ByJoel Brown via WTVD logo
Friday, September 7, 2018

CARY, NC (WTVD) -- Jerry Meyer, a west Cary father of 2 little girls, is a vocal member of the resistance to Wake County Schools' new reassignment proposal. Much of Meyer's ire is aimed at his school board representative, Bill Fletcher.

"I think Mr. Fletcher should recuse himself from this process. And if he doesn't, he should be removed," Meyer said.

Fletcher was loudly booed last week as he presented the district's proposal to fill many of the seats at under-enrolled East Cary Middle School by reassigning many of the students at Davis Drive Middle in west Cary -- a crowded but popular well-performing school.

Meyer, whose home is 1.2 miles away from Davis, is like many parents in the neighborhood. He said he looked forward to his girls riding their bikes to Davis. His family is now faced with the prospect of 90 minutes on school buses back and forth to East Cary.

"We bought our houses with the intent of (my daughters) coming to this school," he said.

Meyer took the microphone at last week's forum to ask Fletcher a question: Is Fletcher's day job as a real estate agent a conflict of interest - reassigning properties in an area where he sells houses?

"It seems like a sticky situation, it really does," Meyer said. "If your property value goes down because of this, he'll help you sell your house. If your property value goes up, he'll help you sell your house."

Fletcher's website slogan is "Uncomplicate Real Estate". He told ABC11 by phone Thursday night that this isn't complicated at all -- that he has no financial interest in the reassignment plan whatsoever.

"I do no work with developers or builders; I don't represent new construction," Fletcher said. "I'm very, very careful about having any conflict of interest and not even having an appearance of conflict of interest."

Meyer conceded he had no evidence Fletcher is motivated by financial gain, only his suspicions.

"It just doesn't pass the smell test for a real estate agent to be rezoning properties and then have a final vote," Meyer said.

Fletcher told ABC11 he has no plans to recuse himself from the reassignment process.

"We don't make assignments to raise or lower property values," he said. "I think it's a rather far-fetched conclusion that that's part of anybody's motivation."

Meyer and other concerned parents say they have no plans on giving up their fight to change the proposal.

The reassignment hearings continue through September.

A final school board vote is expected in November.