If actions have consequences, the consequences for speaking out in favor of the diversity policy could be costly for one local law firm.
It didn't escape the attention of the new school board majority that prominent local attorney Wade Smith was one of the speakers at the Oct. 5 Friends of Diversity press conference. Smith had helped push the 1976 merger through when he was in the General Assembly.
One potential response by the new board majority is to drop the firm that Smith helped found, Tharrington Smith, as the school district's attorney.
Smith and other speakers at the Friends of Diversity press conference, held a day before the election, were careful not to explicitly endorse any of the pro-diversity policy candidates. But it wasn't hard to get the idea they weren't in favor of the anti-diversity policy candidates who eventually won.
Tharrington Smith represents more than 20 school systems, including Durham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro. It's widely acknowledged that the firm has a national reputation for education law practice.
But the new majority could have questions about the legal advice they'd be getting from Tharrington Smith as they attempted to overturn policies such as the diversity policy and mandatory year-round schools.
The school board generally picks its attorney during the annual meeting in June so Tharrington Smith would likely have the job for at least the next seven months.
It's a position that would likely draw interest from other legal firms if Wake made a change. Wake has routinely paid Tharrington Smith, the board's attorney for 31 years, more than $500.000 a year.
If Wake does go lawyer shopping, it's unlikely the contract would go to the firm of Parker Poe even though it does have an education law practice. Two of the firm's partners, Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker and Knightdale Mayor Russell Killen, both spoke at the Friends of Diversity event.
The school board had looked in 2002 at switching to an in-house attorney but dropped the idea. Although an in-house legal department would be cheaper, board members said Wake has been getting high quality legal services from Tharrington Smith at a reasonable cost.
Ann Majestic says Smith never agreed to attend the Friends of Diversity press conference and did not attend. His name was on the list of speakers put out by the event's organizer, Keith Sutton.
Smith had talked about the importance of the diversity policy in an article that ran the Sunday before the election.