Good and bad news for the Wake County school system

Posted by T. Keung Hui on December 17, 2013 

The Wake County school system got both some good news and bad news this week in the form of national recognition for the number of certified teachers and another federal civil-rights investigation.

On the good news side, new figures released Tuesday show that Wake continues to lead the nation with the most teachers certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards with 2,365. There are some factors that account for why Wake leads the nation in the number of teachers who receive this coveted certification.

The state helps subsidize the $2,500 cost of getting certification with low-interest loans. Teachers who earn the certification get a 12 percent salary supplement. Wake is also the largest district in the state and the 16th largest nationally.

While state legislators are eliminating extra pay for advanced degrees, they’ve so far not messed with the national board supplement.

On the bad news side, Wake just found out it’s now facing a third investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. That doesn’t include five open complaints OCR has on the district.

In the new investigation, OCR is looking into whether the school system violated the federal Americans With Disabilities Act when it rejected a Raleigh family’s request for a medical transfer to a school whose after-care program would provide emergency injections for diabetic children.

School administrators and school board members had rejected the transfer request six times because of the enrollment cap at Lacy Elementary School.

“They could have done it a lot easier and a lot more quicker and cost effectively for a lot of people,” said Bruce Hatcher, the Raleigh father who filed the complaint.

Hatcher‘s goal is to get the school system to force the YMCA of the Triangle to begin providing the injections to students who attend the after-care programs that the groups runs for Wake.

In terms of OCR, U.S. Department of Eduction spokesman Jim Bradshaw said that they’re also investigating the complaint filed by the state NAACP over the prior school board’s student assignment policy changes and the suspension rates of minority and low-income students. Since the complaint named both the school board and the school system, Bradshaw said they’re being handled as two separate investigations.

In terms of the five open OCR complaints, Bradshaw said two are currently under evaluation to determine whether the allegations are appropriate for investigation, both alleging disability discrimination. He said the other three open complaints were resolved with resolution agreements between OCR and the district, and the agreements are currently under OCR monitoring to ensure their full implementation.

Of those three complaints that were resolved, Bradshaw said one involved the issue of Title IX equal interscholastic athletic participation. He said the other two involve services for students with disabilities.

The Title IX complaint was filed in 2010 by the National Women’s Law Center against Wake and 11 other school systems nationwide. As part of the settlement, Wake is now offering more sports for female athletes such as lacrosse.

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