The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. How will the new student assignment plan balance diversity, stability, proximity and stability? How will Jim Merrill replace Tony Tata as the new superintendent of the state's largest district? How will voters react to a $810 million school construction bond referendum on Oct. 8 ballot? How will this fall's school board elections impact the future of the district?

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Explaining the no votes against hiring Jim Merrill for Wake County schools superintendent

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Despite pressure for a unified front, Wake County school board members Deborah Prickett and John Tedesco said they felt they had to vote no on hiring Jim Merrill to be the new superintendent.

As noted in today's article, both board members said they felt that Ann Clark, the deputy superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, was the better choice than Merrill, the superintendent of Virginia Beach City Public Schools and a former Wake administrator.

As has occurred for the prior two superintendent hires, board members felt the need to vote no while still saying they'd support the new schools chief.

Prickett opened by saying that Merrill was "very qualified" to be superintendent and that she welcomed his return. But she didn't feel he was better than Clark.

“At this time in Wake County history, I really felt like it was time to hire our first female superintendent," Prickett said. "I think Ann Clark would have really been the person maybe to bring us forward and to maybe accomplish some of our achievement goals.

She was just the person that I felt that we needed at this particular time. I’ve given this a lot of thought. I will certainly work with Dr. Merrill and I think he’ll be a fine superintendent.”

Tedesco fired some jabbed at his colleagues as he explained his no vote.

"As we looked at three highly qualified educators, I saw one candidate emerge with a combination of skills, experience, breadth and depth that’s really needed for this role in my view," Tedesco said. "Ann Clark is one of the finest educators I have ever met.

She was a bus driver, a special-ed teacher, a nationally recognized principal of the year and chief academic officer and deputy superintendent spanning 30 years in the most comparable district to Wake County in the nation. She had had national success in achievement goals for all students, particularly our most vulnerable students.

I truly in my heart of hearts believe she was the best candidate to bring our board together, inspire our community and lead our students to new heights. She desired to set a north star towards all we can be. At this point I am deeply concerned that some have such a strong desire to turn to all they perceive we once were in Wake that they are missing out on an opportunity to be all that we can become. So my vote is and remains for Ann Clark and for all that Wake County can become.”

None of the board members who backed Merrill gave their reasons at the board table.

“While I respect the differing opinions, it was my hope that we would have a unified front and a unanimous vote for whichever candidate we chose," said school board chairman Keith Sutton. "I hope inspite of what appeared to be two dissenting votes that the two of you will jump behind and support our new superintendent.”

In a press conference after the vote, Merrill said he respected their right to vote against hiring him.

1371643028 Explaining the no votes against hiring Jim Merrill for Wake County schools superintendent The News and Observer Copyright 2011 The News and Observer . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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I think Merrill needs to respect

that it was not 7-2 but 5-4 as Keung reported and Keith confirmed. That means that he does not have a mandate to do what he wants and that half the board felt Ann Clark was a stronger choice. That would make me hyperaware of 1) listening and 2) compromising. That should also send a strong message to Kevin, he needs to stop his crazy manipulation of the system and start working with the board as a whole.

You have to go by the official vote

If it was 5-4 then there are two spineless members
who switched their votes. Of course, with Dems and RINOs that is hardly a surprise!

Keung, Do you know if the

Do you know if the minutes of the closed session become public record now that the public vote has occurred?

They will be whenever

They will be whenever someone actually compiles them and they are approved by the board. Those closed session minutes are generally very vague. That's why there's been efforts over the years to require bodies to record closed sessions. But that's been fought by them.

Considering there aren't any

Considering there aren't any minutes for any of the 2013 meetings posted on the school board's web site yet, I'm guessing it won't be any time soon.

and this is why there is such dysfunction

There is not accountability at all. They can do everything behind closed doors and there is no accountability and no acceptance of responsibility.

Just more fuel for voting no

handing over more money to these morons simply isn't going to happen.

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.