Wake schools face accreditation, reassignment this week

Accreditation and reassignment likely to toss lots of whys at Wake school board.

Staff WriterJanuary 10, 2011 

  • The Wake County Public School System will host five public hearings on the 2011-12 student reassignment plan. The other hearings - all running from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. - will be Wednesday at Millbrook High School in North Raleigh, Thursday at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, Jan. 19 at Southeast Raleigh High School, Jan. 20 at Garner High School and Jan. 24 at Cary High School.

    People who wish to speak will be able to register at the door or in advance online at www.wcpss.net/signup/assignment.

    The school board will hear comments first from people who registered online and then from those who sign up at the door.

    The board could take a final vote Feb. 1.

— The Wake County school board this week will hear from parents concerned about where their children will be educated, and from a special review team that could recommend stripping accreditation from the district's high schools.

On Wednesday, parents will speak at the first of five public hearings on a plan that could reassign 4,703 students this fall.

Historically, such meetings are heated. But they could pale in significance next to the reviewers coming from AdvancED, a Georgia accreditation firm that is examining school board decisions on student assignment and other issues.

"It's going to be a busy week," school board member Chris Malone said. "It's going to be a busy month. "We can deal with it."

AdvancED will arrive Wednesday to interview school board members, school administrators and people from the community.

In response to a complaint filed by the state NAACP, AdvancED is conducting what Mark Elgart, the company's chief executive, has called a rare and serious review of the state's largest school district.

AdvancED asked Wake for information justifying nearly every major decision made since a new school board majority took office in December 2009. The group's wide-ranging review includes questions about:

Why the board dropped the use of socioeconomic diversity in student assignment.

Why the board abandoned a high school site in northeast Raleigh for one in Rolesville.

Why the board designated the conservative Civitas Institute as a trainer for school board members.

Why the board hired conservative lawyer Thomas Farr to be a special counsel.

"It looks like they're listening to all the partisan attacks," said Malone, a member of the Republican majority on the officially nonpartisan school board.

The Republican majority has accused AdvancED of overstepping its authority by reviewing districtwide issues when the group only accredits the high schools. Under a threat of immediate loss of accreditation in September, the school board agreed to turn over the material.

A loss of school accreditation would make it harder for students to get scholarships, loans and college acceptances. Board member Carolyn Morrison, a member of the board minority, said it's likely AdvancED will warn Wake that it needs to make changes to retain accreditation for the high schools.

"They're here to help us improve," Morrison said. "I have no fear of it."

In addition to the AdvancED review, the U.S. Department of Education has opened a pair of civil rights investigations of Wake schools.

The state NAACP has accused Wake of racial discrimination in student assignment.

The National Women's Law Center, meanwhile, accused Wake and 11 other school systems across the country of failing to provide girls with opportunities equal to those boys have to play interscholastic sports.

keung.hui@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4534

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service