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Kevin Hill asking for Dec. 7 work session on student assignment

The new Democratic majority on the Wake County school board want to work on student assignment on Day 2 instead of Day 1 of their tenure.

As noted in today's article, Democratic school board member and potential new chairman Kevin Hill has requested that a Dec. 7 work session be held on the student assignment plan. The new majority will be sworn in on Dec. 6.

“The assignment plan is very time sensitive,” Hill said. “We’ll be into the December holidays and time is short. I requested that we get our sleeves rolled up and get to work.”

Looking at how to help black and low-income students at Enloe High School

No one disputes that more should be done to help the low-performing students at Enloe High School but the problem seems to be finding the right solution.

As noted in today's article, the rejection of the block schedule has left Enloe's leadership looking for alternatives. The challenge is finding something that will help the low-performing students without causing too many changes that would draw complaints from magnet students and their parents.

And with one current Enloe parent and two former Enloe parents now elected as school board members, what else is in store for the magnet school? Enloe has the dubious distinction of having the lowest passing rates on state tests among Wake's high schools for black and low-income students.

Wake Democrats accuse GOP of playing "tricks" on voters

On this Halloween, the Wake County Democratic Party is talking about the "crazy tricks that the Republicans are breaking out in the final days" before the Nov. 8 school board runoff election.

In a newsletter today, Wake Democrats dispute the contention in Saturday's Wake County Republican Party newsletter that Susan Evans and Jim Martin "burst into a meeting with the Superintendent and raised havoc." Democrats say in the newsletter that "they had a reasonable discussion with the Superintendent and his team" on student assignment.

Democrats also complain that the GOP criticized board member Kevin Hill for accepting the endorsement of the AFL-CIO, "made up of our school's custodians and other hard working staffers."

But Democrats charge that the GOP's "biggest trick is trying to convince people that Kevin Hill wants to take us back to the policies of the past." They contend that the "the Wake GOP, and Heather Losurdo, have lied time and time again about Kevin's statements and votes."

Looking at Ann and John Campbell

Now who are Ann and John Campbell, the people who've donated some $50,000 to help elect the new Democratic candidates to the Wake County school board?

As noted in today's article by John Frank, the Campbells aren't talking. Neither are their friends or associates.

"Their involvement is more about policy than politics," said Dan Blue III, a close friend of John Campbell who used to work him. He refused to talk more about the Campbells, calling them "private citizens" who don't want the spotlight.

Susan Evans and Jim Martin deny rumor being spread by Wake GOP

New Wake County school board members Susan Evans and Jim Martin are denouncing as "absolutely false" a rumor being spread by Republicans that they browbeat Superintendent Tony Tata and staff about the new student assignment plan.

In an issue of the Elephant Express sent today, Wake County Republican Party Chairwoman Susan Bryant says "there's a rumor floating around" that Evans and Martin "barged" into a student assignment task force meeting "and ordered him (Tata) to take no steps toward implementing the plan." Bryant writes that "we understand their yelling was so loud it could be heard out in the hall."

"I don't know how she can completely fabricate something like this," said Evans, in an interview today, about the charges from Bryant.

UPDATE

In en e-mail response, Tata said "we had a meaningful, frank, and sometimes spirited discussion" at the Oct. 21 meeting. I haven't gotten back a response from him clarifying what that means.

While I don't think shortening Tata's response changed anything, here's the full reply he gave me yesterday:

"I had not heard any rumors and had not seen the newsletter until you emailed it to me. As I announced two press conferences ago, I invited Dr. Martin, Ms. Evans, and Ms. Kushner to attend an update on the assignment plan so that we could answer their questions and provide more information in order to begin their transition as individual board members. The assignment task force was present along with some other senior staff personnel. Over the course of about two hours, we had a meaningful, frank, and sometimes spirited discussion. Our transition plan calls for more information exchange in the coming weeks leading up to their taking office. We have a full agenda and fixed timelines, making it vital that we share as much information as early as possible so that we can remain firmly focused on students and parents. Thx, Tony."

NAACP calling on Wake school board to postpone student assignment vote

The state NAACP is calling on the Wake County school board to delay Tuesday's vote on the new student assignment plan until at least after next month's runoff election.

In an open letter sent late Monday evening, the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP, argues that the vote shouldn't be held while the results of the school board election and investigations by the U.S. Department of Education and AdvancED are still unknown. The group also argues that last week's public hearing at Broughton High School is insufficient.

"Only one public hearing has been held, and a decision of this magnitude should have more," Barber writes. "The results of the election and two investigations are unknown, and the plan could be changed within a few months, wasting the school system's time and resources."

Speculating on how Ron Margiotta would have done against Jim Martin

How's this for a what-if scenario from the Wake County school board elections?

During an appearance Wednesday on The Bill LuMaye Show on WPTF, Democratic political strategist Perry Woods speculated on what might have happened if school board chairman Ron Margiotta had faced Jim Martin instead of Susan Evans in the District 8 race.

"They kind of got maybe a little too cute and moved him out of the district," said Woods, who worked for the Democratic school board candidates. "And I think Ron probably had a better chance of beating Jim Martin than he did Susan Evans, who ended up beating him."

Speakers raise concerns about new student assignment plan

Most of the 28 speakers at Thursday's public hearing wanted the Wake County school board to make changes and/or delay a vote on adoption of the new student assignment plan.

As noted in today's article, several speakers referenced Tuesday's election results that brought in three new school board members and could result in a new Democratic majority taking office Dec. 6. Speakers asked for a delay until November or December.

"If the board is willing to wait one month until after we see what the results of the next election are, Mr. Hill’s seat, I believe that the board will begin to come together in a much more dignified way and that the decision that is made will reflect the will of the entire community and not just a narrow majority," said the Rev. Tom Rhodes.

New school board members calling for delay in student assignment plan vote

The three new Democratic members of the Wake County school board are all saying that Tuesday is too early to adopt the new student assignment plan.

New board member Susan Evans said additional study time might mean the plan would not be implemented until 2013, but might well be worth it.

“Do we have to have this in place for 2012-2013, when 94-95 percent of parents are happy where they are?” Evans asked. “I think we could take the time to vet it out and get it right. We definitely need to continue to work on a long-term plan.”

Evans was joined at tonight's student assignment public hearing by Christine Kushner and Jim Martin. Most of the speakers either asked for a delay or changes to the plan. More on that tomorrow morning.

Questioning whether the school board should vote on the assignment plan Tuesday

Should the Wake County school board hold off on adopting the new student assignment plan on Tuesday?

As noted in today's article, the recent election results could mean a new Democratic majority would take office Dec. 6 whose members have raised concerns about the details of the current plan. If Republicans still maintain control, four new members would take office in less than two months.

School board vice chairman John Tedesco said he, board chairman Ron Margiotta and Superintendent Tony Tata agreed Wednesday to leave the vote on the plan on the Oct. 18 agenda. Tedesco said they need to follow Tata's timetable to have it ready for implementation in the 2012-13 school year.

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