Racially tinged fliers raise ire

Fliers found in North Raleigh neighborhood blame illegal immigrants for year-round schools and crowding

Staff WriterSeptember 12, 2006 

— Ku Klux Klan fliers blaming Wake County's school reassignment and plans for mandatory year-round schools on illegal immigration were distributed Monday in a North Raleigh neighborhood.

The fliers, wrapped around old editions of The News & Observer, were placed on lawns on Fiesta Way, between Harps Mill and Falls of the Neuse roads, near North Ridge Elementary School. The fliers claim to have been distributed by an Arkansas-based white supremacist group, the Knights Party, which is also known as the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

"The 'November Criminals' of both political parties are cowardly & treasonously evading this issue in pandering to these illegal non-white invaders votes; thereby forcing you and your children to pay for all this through higher taxes, over crowded schools, inadequate classrooms and class size, and forced year-round schooling," the flier reads.

The school board recently approved the conversion of 19 elementary schools to a mandatory year-round calendar in 2007 as a way to keep up with growth because those schools can hold more students than traditional schools. The board also may vote to convert up to six middle schools.

The school board is meeting at 9:30 a.m. today to discuss converting the middle schools. A public hearing will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday at Sanderson High School, 5500 Dixon Drive, in North Raleigh.

Wake also has reassigned thousands of students each year to fill new schools, ease crowding at existing schools and promote diversity.

Flier denounced

The flier was denounced by Dave Duncan, president of Assignment By Choice and a leader of a new group, Stop Mandatory Year-Round. He said opponents of mandatory year-round schools want nothing to do with any group that espouses hate.

"It's what Hitler tried to do, blame all the problems on one people group," Duncan said. "The Hispanic community has a lot to offer to Wake County. Illegal immigration is something that should be addressed. It's not a school assignment issue. It's a legal issue."

The fliers didn't sit well with some residents on Fiesta Way.

"If I still had children in elementary school, I would be against mandatory year-round schooling," said Brenda Riddle, who has a daughter in high school. "But I wouldn't join the KKK to fight it. The KKK has the freedom to distribute it, but I don't see anybody in this neighborhood joining the group."

Terry Mizesko and his wife, Sandy Schwarcz, both musicians with the North Carolina Symphony, have two children at North Ridge Elementary. When asked about the flier, Mizesko noted that his father-in-law was a Hungarian Jew who survived a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

"[Illegal immigrants] are not the reason why schools are growing," Mizesko said. "It's the people moving in from New Jersey, Florida and California who want lower taxes."

Still, illegal immigration has become a wedge issue with some groups who blame it for Wake County's record growth. The flier blames illegal immigrants for overcrowding that puts students in mobile classrooms and nontraditional instructional places such as gyms and cafeterias.

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1982 requires school districts to educate illegal immigrants. The flier accuses politicians of not doing enough to combat illegal immigration.

Hispanic enrollment has grown sharply in the Wake district. It accounted for 9.2 percent of enrollment last school year, up from 1.9 percent a decade ago.

But a school district report released last spring showed that Hispanics accounted for only 12.4 percent of Wake's new students last school year. The report found that white students accounted for 50.2 percent of newcomers.

It was unclear who may have distributed the flier locally.

Thomas Robb, national director of the Knights Party, said he was not aware of the flier. But he said local recruiters from the group, which says its goal is to "Become the leader of the White racialist movement," often distribute fliers on their own. Nonschool-related fliers from the group have been previously distributed in Raleigh, including August 2005 in a North Hills neighborhood.

The Rhinoceros Times, a weekly in the Greensboro area, filed a lawsuit last week against the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, accusing the organization of wrapping leaflets within the tabloid and throwing them on lawns.

Candye Slay, principal of North Ridge Elementary, said she would be surprised if the flier had been distributed by a parent at the school. Although the school isn't on the list of those to be converted to a year-round calendar, it has seen its Hispanic population rise to 16 percent, with more students from nearby apartment buildings, Slay said. Overcrowding has increased at the school.

"I think our parents here value diversity at our school," Slay said.

Staff writer T. Keung Hui can be reached at 829-4534 or khui@newsobserver.com.

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