RALEIGH — On a 5-4 vote, the Wake County school boards ruling majority agreed tonight to stop busing students for diversity and to move to a community-based system of student assignment.
The community-based system will be developed during a nine to 15-month period and means the system will stop trying to mix students from different socio-economic backgrounds, even if the change creates more schools with high concentrations of students from poor families.
Board member John Tedesco, point man for the resolution, said the current system already allows for high numbers of high-poverty schools. More than three in 10 Wake Schools now have more than 40 percent students who qualify for free and reduced price lunches, he said.
We are pretending that the problem doesnt exist and that the current solution works, Tedesco said.
The decision came nearly nine hours into a tumultuous day on which chair Ron Margiotta and four fellow Republican members elected last fall stuck to their guns on their anti-busing-for-diversity stand. Faced with some vocal opponents and shouted comments, they beat back multiple amendments by opponents who didnt want to pass the resolution without more study, more research and more information on its cost.
If this is going to stand the test of time, it could stand the test of a work session, said opposition member Kevin Hill.
Board member Carolyn Morrison, who opposed the resolution, introduced an amendment that put the ruling majority in the position of having to vote for or against a plan that ensures that schools will not become segregated. Ultimately, the majority didnt support Morrisons amendment.
The eyes of the nation are upon us, Morrison said.
Chris Malone, a member of the majority, accused Morrison of using talk of segregation as a political ploy. That doesnt happen today, Tedesco said. The fact is, the laws of the state of North Carolina and the federal government are sufficient to make sure that does not occur.
Earlier in the day, police arrested three protesters.
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