Wake Ed

March 7, 2014

State Board of Education says it has no authority on student assignment

Amid requests from Union County parents for help, the State Board of Education passes a resolution saying it has no authority on student assignment but wants local school boards “to deliberate with extensive input from parents.”

Wake County parents who have fights going forward with the school system over student assignment shouldn’t look to the State Board of Education for help.

On Thursday, the State Board of Education unanimously approved a resolution (click here) pointing out it has no authority under North Carolina law over student assignment. But the resolution goes on to say “that the State Board of Education requests each local board of education to deliberate with extensive input from parents and other citizens and make the best decisions on school reassignment for all children.”

The resolution came because parents in the Union County school system, near Charlotte, have been embroiled in a assignment fight that families in Wake County would understand.

As noted in this Charlotte Observer article, the Union County school board held a surprise vote Tuesday to approve a reassignment plan when the item was only listed on the agenda as a discussion item.

Union County parents lobbied the State Board of Education for help. But state board members say the General Assembly gave assignment authority to local school boards in 1955.

State board member John Tate proposed the resolution. Some state boad members questioned the need for the resolution when they have no authority on assignment. But state board chairman Bill Cobey told his colleagues the vote would serve a purpose, especially with other reassignment fights coming.

Wake is starting work on a new multi-year assignment plan that will come out later this year.

“If there is a sensitive local issue, this is the one that is very sensitive,” Cobey said. “We are going to have redistricting issues come up almost yearly. I would like us to have a resolution that we can respond to people and clarify and let them know what we can and can’t do.”

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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