Local/State

Wake School Board unveils latest assignment plan

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Wake County school board once again tackled its controversial student assignment policy on Tuesday. However, problems with school bus routes continued to dominate the start of the meeting.

The district has gotten thousands of complaints from parents over the first few weeks of school about the continuing problem of late buses - or buses that don't arrive at all.

Many disillusioned and angry parents spoke out.

"I called the department of transportation five times," said Apex parent Eric Fagerstrom. "Their response -- we don't know."

The board got an earful about the busing debacle, and what some call the scapegoat firing of transportation chief Don Haydon.

"I heard Mr. Tata say that the buck stopped with him," said Raleigh parent Amy Lee. "But, now we see that he pushed it down a level and someone else became the scapegoat. We do not allow bullying in our schools. So why are we allowing it to persist in central office."

It's the fallout from a rough start this school year that saw challenges school leaders hope a new assignment plan will help fix. The plan, which is potentially the third for Wake County in as many years, would take effect in the 2013-2014 school year.

Walking a fine line between choice and diversity, it lets parents stay at a base school near their home or rank options while taking test scores and real estate data into consideration.

Enrollment caps would prevent overcrowding.

"I think we're moving in the right direction," said Wake Schools Superintendent Tony Tata. "Assignment is a process and we know assignment has been very contentious in the past."

However, a few said sibling calendar continuity should be more of a priority and that the plan needs to consider newer socio-economic data to achieve better diversity.

"It sounds like it's still a little bit disorganized, but that's Wake County for you," said Wake County parent Megan Stocker.

"It would have been helpful to the community to have the maps ASAP," said Garner parent Fred Richardson.

Meanwhile, five public hearings that were scheduled to talk about the new assignment plan have been cancelled while the board continues to look at the proposal.

Click here for more details on the plan.

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wake county schools, local/state, fred shropshire
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