NAACP finally gets sit-down with Wake County Schools

APEX, North Carolina (WTVD) -- After weeks of waiting for a response, Raleigh civil rights leaders and community advocates say Wake County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim Merrill has agreed to their request for a face-to-face meeting to talk about the recent rash of ugly racially-charged episodes at Wake schools.

The meeting serves as a chance to address the racist online video posted by Leesville Middle schoolers, where students can be heard chanting, "KKK! KKK!" and other racial slurs. And there was also the recent case involving Micah Speed, the black Wake Forest High student caught on camera pulling his white classmate to the ground after what Micah described as weeks of relentless racist bullying.

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"I've been dealing with this work for 40 years. And it's time that we stand up. It's time that we do something," said Geraldine Alshamy, a long-time community advocate who will join representatives from the NAACP Raleigh branch and others at the meeting with Dr. Merrill.

Alshamy says the recent cases are just the tip of the iceberg. She argues that Wake County schools has a long history of racial inequities. She keeps a logbook of alleged cases of white children treated differently than lower-income black children in terms of punishment. And she insists cases of racist bullying in schools often go ignored by teachers and principals.

Alshamy sounded encouraged that Dr. Merrill agreed to a conversation.

"Everybody's come to a place where (we) can no longer sweep it under the rug. (We) can no longer not talk about racism," Alshamy said.


In his email to Alshamy and the other community leaders, Dr. Merrill wrote: "As we shape both short-term and long-term efforts to interrupt hate-filled rhetoric and systemic inequities, I welcome an opportunity to hear from you directly."

Alshamy wants to propose a multi-layered plan of action -- empowering parents by decentralizing power from school system headquarters. She plans to propose the creation of local school councils made up of parents, community members and local business people to help make decisions on discipline, funding and the hiring of firing of teachers and principals. She believes the concept could add a desperately needed sense of accountability at Wake schools.


"(Parents and the community) want to be a part of the decision-making process," Alshamy said.

Specifics on time and place of the meeting with Dr. Merrill are still being finalized. But Tuesday offered another sign the superintendent was serious about the racial concerns. In his budget proposal, Merrill asks for a $488,000 boost to the district's Office of Equity Affairs, the department tasked with handling racial inequity issues district-wide.

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