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.
Last November, the Wake County School Board rushed through a vote to ditch the healthy school plan, abandon diversity, and move towards ideology rather than sound research. Let's not make the same mistake again."
Last week's election saw four Democratic school board candidates win outright. The fifth seat on the ballot, along with who will hold a majority on the nine-member board, will hang on a likely Nov. 8 runoff election between Democratic school board member Kevin Hill and Republican challenger Heather Losurdo.
"Our recommendation is that, yes, the Wake County School Board should wait until the election is finally settled," Barber writes. "The community is clearly saying that they want the persons making decisions for the future of their children's education to be willing to look at sound educational research, the law and lessons of history, which insist that diversity and resources are critical to student achievement."
In addition to Barber, newly elected school board members Susan Evans and Jim Martin have also called on Tuesday's vote to be postponed.
The investigations by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights and AdvancED, which accredits Wake's high schools, are ongoing. Acting on complaints filed by the NAACP, both groups have been looking at the Republican school board majority's elimination of the socioeconomic diversity policy.
OCR has been monitoring Wake's adoption of its new student assignment plan while AdvancED has given Wake until Nov. 30 to report back on the status of the changes it requested in board governance in a March report.
Throughout the open letter, Barber repeatedly praises Wake's old policy of trying to balance schools by socioeconomics, calling it the "Gold Standard Plan" or the "Gold Plan."
"Of course much of the staff's hard work and good new ideas can be incorporated into updating the Gold Plan," Barber writes. "The proposed plan, however, is fundamentally flawed because staff was forced to ignore diversity, deny history and the best educational research, and dance around the critical issue of improving educational opportunities for all our children."
Hill and the winning Democratic school board candidates have talked about doing more to promote diversity in the new assignment plan, but they've also said they're not advocating going back to the old diversity policy.