Has the Wake County school system been transparent as Superintendent Tony Tata has repeatedly told the public?
As noted in today's article, critics of the plan accused Tata and school administrators of being deceptive in how they've pitched the plan to the public. Two areas they raised in particular are their charges that Wake didn't list the true seat availability in round one and that they haven't been open about the assignment algorithm.
"Liar, liar pants on fire,” said Amy Lee, a member of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition, during the public comment section of the school board meeting. “Mr. Tata, are your pants on fire? From the public’s perspective, your pants are on raging fire."
In round one, Wake listed seat availability at some grades in school as less than five seats. But now n round 2, they're listing negative numbers.
Maria Reier released this list of emails she exchanged with Chief Transformation Officer Judy Peppler about the capacity issue.
"We intend to have full transparency on the numbers this round based on feedback from the board and our parents, including showing the negative numbers where we have overcrowded schools," Peppler said in a Friday email to Reier about why the info wasn't provided in round one. "We knew based on past experience with assignment that there would be a lot of movement at certain grade levels so attempted to balance transparency with discouraging people from choosing certain schools. Numbers should be updated end of day Monday."
Reier and other parents charge the negative numbers weren't posted to conceal the lack of choice in the plan. Some parents said they might have chosen differently if they had known the full details in Round 1.
The other issue that came up is the selection algorithm.
One complaint about the algorithm is that it puts families with only child at a disadvantage compared to those with multiple siblings.
"Your putting a child in the back of the line because she has no brothers or sisters," said Cary parent Lynn Tate, whose daughter didn't get the school they wanted " Stop discriminating against families who are smaller."
Reier argued that parents should have had access to the more detailed business rules for the algorithm when they were making their round one choices. For instance, she pointed to how it would have helped families know what to do when they had siblings they wanted to keep together.
"Not only is this a poor plan, but the way it has been executed has made it unacceptable for Wake County,” Reier said.
Raleigh parent Lee Hogewood said that staff should have told the board in October that the first round would result in some unassigned students. If they had known, he said the new board majority might have delayed the plan or at least required that all applicants get an assignment after round one.
“These unassigned students are being treated like collateral damage," said Hogewood, who has an unassigned rising sixth-grader. "They deserve better. They deserve better.”
Vickie Adamson pointed to the problems filling the two new modular schools and warned she won't vote for the next school bond issue.
Former school board member Beverley Clark and now a GSIW member charged that "sadly, Mr. Tata you have delivered a plan full of distortion, misrepresentation and chaos for our community."
Former school board candidate Rita Rakestraw said the board should go back to having the 40 percent F&R goal.
During a break, Tata talked to reporters. He said the complaints from the 26 speakers need to be put in context to how many families are satisfied with the new plan. He said he listened to the speakers on Tuesday and would try to address their concerns to raise the satisfaction rate.