Don Mial, who spent much of his career working in the state’s juvenile justice system, announced Wednesday that he will run for the new District A seat on the Wake County school board.
Mial will campaign in one of the two regional seats created by the General Assembly in 2013 when the Wake County school board maps were redrawn. District A includes most of the area of the old Raleigh city limits, inside the 440 Beltline.
Mial, 63, said his candidacy is a continuation of the time he spent in the juvenile justice system helping young people find answers and the right direction for their lives. Mial retired in 2015 as assistant facility director at C.A. Dillon Youth Development Center in Butner.
In his press release, Mial said that the district must work to improve pre-K programs and address the student suspension rate “because this is a community issue and very important to a child’s early education, development and growth.”
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Mial said that his experience working with juveniles has shown that their shortcomings developed when they don’t get a good basic education. He said that’s why early education programs are so important.
“If you don’t have a good foundation, that house won’t last long,” Mial said in an interview Wednesday. “That’s why you need to have a good solid education system.”
Mial said he also thinks his background means he can help with efforts to reduce the suspension rate. While the number of suspensions has dropped 34 percent since 2010, Wake is still under federal investigation over whether the district’s discipline policies and practices discriminate against African-American students on the basis of race
Mial, who lives in an unincorporated area near Knightdale, has unsuccessfully run for public office several times, including for the Wake County Board of Commissioners in 2006 and 2010 and the N.C. House in 2008 and 2012.
In 2013, Mial unsuccessfully applied for the District 1 Wake County school board seat after Chris Malone resigned to take a seat in the N.C. House. The school board appointed Tom Benton, who went on to become the board chairman.
Mial is a retired Army officer and member of the Wake County Board of Adjustment. He is a former member of both the Wake County Board of Elections and the N.C Victim Compensation Commission.
No one else has publicly announced that they will run for the District A seat. Several current school board members live in District A so one or more could choose to run there.
Mial is a registered Democrat who has long been active in the Wake County Democratic Party. Officially school board races are non-partisan.
The General Assembly denied that partisan motives were behind the rewrite of the Wake school board lines. But past voting results indicate that the new lines could create a 5-4 Republican majority with the new District A being Democratic leaning.
Things could be thrown up in the air if the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals orders that new lines be used in this November’s elections, when all nine school board seats are on the ballot. A hearing is scheduled for May 9.
The filing period officialy opens June 13.