A community group representing African-American families that feuded with former Wake County school board chairman Keith Sutton is praising the new leadership of the school board.
In a press release sent Wednesday evening, the Coalition of Concerned Citizens For African-American Children says it “looks forward to working with” school board chairwoman Christine Kushner and vice chairman Tom Benton. The group says both board members “have proven to be loyal, dedicated and committed board members who will continue to work tirelessly to serve all students.”
The group adds that “the CCCAAC believe that Christine Kushner and Thomas Benton will work to ensure that all students who attend WCPSS have equal access to educational equity and equality.”
The statement doesn’t directly mention Sutton, but still puts the CCCAAC at odds with other African-American community groups and elected officials who’ve expressed disappointment at Sutton’s ouster on Tuesday night on a 7-2 vote.
While Sutton is African American and supports having socioeconomic diversity in the student assignment policy, his questions about the magnet school program and the impact of busing minority children for long distances has put him at odds with the CCCAAC.
Sutton has said that Wake can’t rely solely on busing for diversity to deal with the challenge of high-poverty schools.
The CCCAAC, noticeably group president Calla Wright, has had some highly visible spats with Sutton over the past few years.
The CCCAAC had opposed the opening of the two single-sex leadership academies that Sutton had been instrumental in getting opened despite the initial opposition of some of his Democratic colleagues.
In 2012, the CCCAAC charged that Sutton " support the opening of Walnut Creek [Elementary School], a segregated school." Sutton had backed allowing students who live closest to Walnut Creek in Southeast Raleigh to attend. Due to the demographics around the school, Walnut Creek has one of the highest percentages of low-income students in Wake.
Sutton talked his colleagues down last year when they asked about the idea promoted by the CCCAAC of adding a magnet program to Walnut Creek.
Also last year, Wright had charged that Sutton “ has sold us OUT” because Sutton had said they might need to expand magnet programs in western Wake because it’s hard for families to travel to the magnet schools inside the Raleigh Beltline.
Later last year, Wright had another heated email exchange with Sutton in which she accused him of “ hiding” from the group by not answering their requests to meet with him. Sutton had gotten some heated questions when he had spoken at a prior CCCAAC meeting.
Here’s the new CCCAAC press release:
The members of the Coalition Of Concerned Citizens For African American Children look forward to working with the new leadership for our school system: Christine Kushner, WCPSS Chair and Thomas Benton, WCPSS Vice Chair. Both have proven leadership and will work to ensure that all children who attend WCPSS will have access to equal educational opportunities and that all children who attend Wake County Public Schools will equal access and support to be academically successful.
Ms. Kushner and Mr. Benton have proven to be loyal, dedicated and committed board members who will continue to work tirelessly to serve all students. The Coalition is pleased that, after four years of turmoil, the current Board of Education will have nine members focused on increasing academic achievement for all students.
Lynn Perry, said, “ Ms. Kushner and Mr. Benton provided me with prompt feedback regarding my concerns and offered a proposed resolution in an effort to build a positive and nurturing relationship between the board, parents and our community.”
The CCCAAC believe that Christine Kushner and Thomas Benton will work to ensure that all students who attend WCPSS have equal access to educational equity and equality. Their leadership is needed as we move forward with a major new building program, a new superintendent, and the need to develop more academic accountability and student success at every school in Wake County.