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Debating whether there was enough info to vote on the single-sex schools

Did Wake County Superintendent Tony Tata give enough information on the new single-sex leadership academies before asking for the school board to approve them Tuesday?

As noted in today's article, three of the Democratic board members argued they couldn't give their support without having more information on the academies. But Tata argued the board had less information when it had voted to approve the Wake Early College at N.C. State that opened this year.

Throughout Tuesday's meeting, Tata pressed the board to act that day. He said it would show Wake's commitment to start the academies as it continued to build partnerships with other groups.

Tracking the 56 rounds of voting for a board vice chair

It was with a smiley face on her ballot that Wake County school board member Debra Goldman finally ended the 2 1/2 hour struggle on Tuesday to name a new vice chairman

A look at the 56 rounds of votes shows that Goldman voted for herself 48 times, in all but one case being the lone vote. She voted seven times for other people, usually Chris Malone or Carolyn Morrison, before finally going for John Tedesco in the 56th round to break the stalemate.

“Our chairman keeps saying somebody holds the key here and it's pretty obvious through the vote," Goldman said before the final ballot. "I’m going to cast my vote different this time because this is number 56, which is the year my parents got married and for me that's a good number because it showed unity and it showed commitment and it showed values. I am going to cast my vote this time and take myself out of that position.”

Looking at retired teachers to hear suspension recommendations

A compromise may be found today over who should hear recommendations for long-term suspensions for Wake County students.

School board member John Tedesco said he's talked with school board attorney Ann Majestic about having retired Wake teachers volunteer to be in a pool of people to serve on hearing panels. As volunteers, they wouldn't be paid.

Additionally, Tedesco said the fact they're former Wake employees means they wouldn't have federal privacy issues with them hearing the cases.

UPDATE

Majestic says the retired educators would be paid because they're not sure they can get enough volunteers to do it for free.

It would be open to a wide range of people from administrators to teachers to guidance counselors.

The school board approved the discipline policy changes by a 6-2 vote on first reading with Carolyn Morrison and Anne McLaurin voting no.

But the vote to waive policy to skip a second reading failed to get the two-thirds majority needed. It failed 5-3 when John Tedesco joined the dissenters.

All the dissenters had concerns that the changes didn't adequately address concerns raised by youth advocacy groups. But Tedesco was willing to approve on first reading and to work out the changes between now and second reading on July 12.

Debating who should hear recommendations for long-term suspensions

The vote on the overhaul of Wake County's student discipline policies was delayed Tuesday over the tricky issue of who should hear recommendations for long-term suspensions.

Currently, a panel of three teachers reviews any recommendations for long-term suspensions that are made by the principal of their school. The principal appoints the panel, creating a potential conflict of interest.

A bill expected to be passed by the General Assembly would say that these panels could no longer consist of people from the child's school.

Electing a school board chair in June

Should Wake County school board member Ron Margiotta run again as board chair when his term expires next month?

There had been some question about whether board policy would allow Margiotta to serve again as chair. Margiotta had created a precedent in December 2009 when he ousted Kevin Hill from the chairmanship before the end of what was supposed to be a one-year term. Margiotta was later elected to a full one-year term last June.

After some legal review, school board attorney Ann Majestic says Margiotta could at a minimum seek a term as chairman that would run through November. This would cover the board policy that says chairs can only serve for two consecutive one-year terms.

Allowing suspensions for incidents at school bus stops

The state bill that would knock out zero tolerance requirements in schools statewide may also impact incidents at school bus stops.

As you guys may recall, Superior Court Judge Carl Fox ruled in March that the Wake County school system did not have jurisdiction to issue a long-term suspension to a Millbrook High student who punched a student at a bus stop in September 2009. He didn't consider the bus stop to be a school-sponsored or school-related activity subject to suspension.

But Ann Majestic, Wake's school board attorney, said S-648 in her view would now cover bus stops.

Debating whether to have more than one redistricting map

Should the Wake County school board have requested an additional redistricting map to review before approving the lines that will be used for elections over the next 10 years?

As noted in today's article, the issue of only having one map split the board in the 5-3 vote. Kevin Hill, Anne McLaurin and Keith Sutton unsuccessfully urged the board to ask Kieran Shanahan to come up with an additional map to consider before holding a final vote.

The other school board members said they were reasonably satisfied with the map and felt there was not a need to draw up any other options.

Additional revisions proposed to Code of Student Conduct

We've got even more proposed changes to Wake County's student discipline policies.

At today's school board work session, school board attorney Ann Majestic said a further review of the proposed overhaul resulted in some additional suggested changes. For instance:

• Elementary school students won’t be subject to a long-term suspension of more than 10 days unless the punishment is mandated by state law or in cases involving serious injury or serious threat to safety and welfare of the school.

UPDATE

Click here for the handout of the policy changes.

Wake to provide tapes of student assignment hearings to OCR

The Wake County school system has found an alternative to hosting a hearing  for federal civil rights investigators.

As previously reported, Wake turned down the offer from the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to host its own hearing in response to complaints that the NAACP had been offered one at a site of its own choosing.

In lieu of a separate OCR hearing, school board attorney Ann Majestic said they'll videotape all of the public meetings that will be held on the new student assignment plan. She said the feds were okay with getting video of the hearings.

School board forms new committee for evaluating Tata

The Wake County school board agreed Tuesday to form a new ad-hoc committee to develop a tool for evaluating the performance of Superintendent Tony Tata.

As part of Tata's contract, his performance needs to be reviewed annually by the school board. A committee chaired by Carolyn Morrison and including Deborah Prickett and Keith Sutton will be charged with developing that evaluation tool.

School board chairman Ron Margiotta will serve as an ex-officio member of the committee. That's being done in response to concerns from board attorney Ann Majestic that a three-member committee could run afoul of the Open Meetings Law when two members discuss issues.

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