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Questions about approving the transfer for Debra Goldman's daughter

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Did you know that you could bypass the normal paperwork and procedure for getting a student transfer in Wake County by appealing directly to the superintendent?

As noted in today's article, that's evidently what school board vice chairwoman Debra Goldman's family did to get their daughter transferred, with bus service provided. She's one of only 15 students in all of Wake County who are attending their current school based on an "administrative transfer" approved by the superintendent.

Michael Evans, Wake's chief communications officer, said that then-interim Superintendent Donna Hargens had approved in January a verbal request from the parent at Goldman's address in Cary to transfer to Davis Drive Middle School. (He worded it that way without saying Goldman's name due to privacy rules.)

Until then, Goldman's daughter had been a magnet student at Martin Middle School. Pulling out of Martin meant that she would normally have gone to her base school, which is West Cary Middle. That schooli is closer than Davis Drive.

Speaking for Hargens, Evans said there were "extenuating circumstances" for approving the transfer to Davis Drive and that it was within board policy, He cited privacy rules for not saying why it was approved.

The transfer was granted under Section B(5) of the transfer policy which says "the Superintendent or designee may administratively assign a student to any school in the system when the Superintendent or designee determines that such action is in the best interest of the student and schools affected, and that such action would not contravene the overall intent of the Board’s school assignment policies."

Unlike a normal transfer request, Evans said there's no paperwork that has to be filed.

Also unlike a regular transfer request, Evans said administrative transfers come with transportation.

Wake extended an existing bus route for Davis Drive that primarily serves the area right around the school. The bus stops directly in front of Goldman's house as the first stop in the morning. According to Google Maps, the stop is between 5.2 and 6.5 miles from the next stop.

Evans said that only one student is picked up at the stop at Goldman's address.

In addition, Evans confirmed that then Superintendent Del Burns had approved a request in January 2010 for a bus stop for Martin Middle in front of Goldman's address. It's 0.3 miles from one stop and 0.4 miles from another one on the route.

Evans said that 2010 request was also within board procedure.

In what could be a rare instance, both Allison Backhouse and Yevonne Brannon agreed on an issue. They said that approving Goldman's request looked fishy.

"One of the things that the public wants to feel is that everything is transparent," said Brannon, chairwoman of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition. "No matter what the circumstances, whether it’s boards meeting privately or board members making private requests for transfers, that’s not transparent."

Goldman did not return requests for comment Friday.


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The N&O didn't determine

The N&O didn't determine what the reason was before publishing a story that identified a child as having some unspecified need for special consideration. The reason could be something that should legitimately remain private. If so, it won't remain private, now that the N&O has put a target on the kid's back. Even though Goldman is a public figure, not every aspect of her life, and her daughter's life, is public.

Good point and now this won't just go away

The self-absorbed Debra Goldman will have to answer to her constituents whether she wants to or not. I expect some of the media will be on her case as well. The next board meeting should be interesting. I bet many of the 2 minute speakers will demand answers from her. Let see how long she can continue to avoid the public.

If this is about a dance class she'll really be in a mess.

I hope not...

I don't want being on the school board to mean that you can no longer advocate for your child in the school system.

If there was special treatment here, Donna Hargens should be the one questioned, not Goldman.  Goldman's duty, as a parent, is to advocate for her kids.  If the administration evaluates her requests on a different standard than others, then that's their issue.

You can advocate for your child

just don't go into hiding and refuse to talk which makes it appear like you've done something wrong.


Here's how that "talking about it" would work, for example:

"Yes, it's true that my child is getting bused to this other school, and that this was approved by the Superintendent.  The Superintendent did so because my child has a neurological condition which impacts his ability to learn.  In the past, he has worked exceptionally well with special-needs teacher XXX, who happens to be assigned to the current school, and we requested the transfer to give him access to that teacher."

Would that put it to bed?  Probably not -- the same people would be asking "What about all the other children with that condition?  Can they go to the Superintendent also?"  (The answer, incidentally, should be 'yes.')  But, even if that did put it to bed, it would be a serious breach of the child's privacy. 

Wow, this is getting very

Wow, this is getting very weird. You seem to be desperately grasping at straws to find something that supports Goldman's abuse of power for personal gain.

Does Davis Drive have specials program to deal with students that have neurological conditions?  Or, does it have special dance programs?

but the hypocrisy of all

but the hypocrisy of all this coming from the one who yelled the loudest about "transparency" with committees, assignment plans, etc....is the point of general outrage (well at least for me)...not the personal "issues" (if any) of said kid.....

I find it very odd that you

I find it very odd that you keep trying to defend an abuse of power. There are processes and policies for advocating for one's child -- processes and policies that  all other parents must follow --  yet Goldam was granted extra special consideration that required no paperwork or normal approvals... consideration no other parent could expect to get.

Also, you mentioned that you didn't like having Goldman's daughter brought into this discussion. I got new for you, it was Goldman's actions that dragged the daughter into this mess. The onus in on her.


There are, as the post points out, 14 other families in the same position.  If this were a one-off "Hey, I know that this isn't allowed, but please do this," then I'd agree with you.  But, it is allowed under district policy.

Delude yourself all you

Delude yourself all you want...

Thank you...

I will.  I've been celebrating the Steeler's victory in the Superbowl for over a month.

Goldman succeeded as a

Goldman succeeded as a parent but appears to have failed as a BOE member. I cannot see her continuing in both roles when there is a conflict.

I disagree...

If that's the rule, then it'd be exceptionally hard for parents of WCPSS students to serve on the school board, because there'd always be a question of "Did this kid get XX because his parent is on the school board?"  Replace XX with "an IEP," "admission to a magnet school," "assignment to a year-round calendar," "advanced a year in math," "admitted to honors classes," "the class assignment he wanted," "good grades" etc.....

I have been in my kids' schools several times in the past few years pushing for what Mrs. Sconce and I think our kids should get, with a good deal of success.  If I were to run for the school board, would I have to stop doing that?  [Note: I have absolutely zero intention to do so.] 

Advocating or Abusive of power

1. I believe Goldman's daughter is an eighth grader, so a mid-year transfer must have been necessitated by something. The reason should remain confidential because it involves a minor and she is not a public figure.

2 . My first reaction was the request to DDMS must have been for a certain program since she would have had more elective opportunities at Martin. Comparing WCMS and DDMS I found both offered Geometry and Band/Orchestra. According to what I saw only DDMS offers Spanish and Dance. I know someone else said dance is offered at West Cary but I didn't see any instructor listed on their website.

3. I believe there are situations that warrent administrative transfers. Bullying and harrassment that was uncontrolled at the school level may warrant a transfer. Certain programming needs may warrent a transfer but I would not consider electives even foreign language a necessity. I think parents should provide the transportation if it for an elective request.


4. Goldman has a history of this behavior. She flipped out on Dulaney for reassigning her son out of Panther Creek. He was a rising ninth grader and she was upset he wouldn't go to the same school as her other son who had already graduated. This was all documented in a radio interview last summer, I think. It was the same interview where Goldman said she was tramatized by her first grade school reassignment.

5. I don't like this mention of the daughter's "special needs". This term is used to designate children in need of special education services. Some of these students do need to travel a distance to get the program that best meets their needs. It would be too costly to offer those types of programs in many schools. I don't think people are trying to imply that her daughter has a disability, but really mean she has a special circumstance or situation which resulted in the transfer.

6. I was once told by a principal that I could not be a parent at that school because I had took employment there. Problem was that was the school my kids attended. Needless to say I do not work for that principal any more.

A couple of years ago...

There was a case at West Cary Middle, I think where a boy was bullied and then stabbed.  His parents wanted a transfer out.  It was well publicized.  They were denied this mid year transfer.   I think he ended up at St. Michael's.

In this case they were denied?

That's crap! Wonder why the parents didn't sue? That would've been a clear winner.

I don't think it is a

I don't think it is a question of abstract examples. For me, it boils down to: Is the WCPSS Supdt freely accessible to any parent for obtaining transfers and door-to-door transportation without having to submit paperwork? If yes, then this is much ado about nothing. If no, it brings into question the conduct of the BOE member and the Supdt.


Because the daughter didn't run for school board and is now the subject of an internet discussion.  Not fair for her.  If we could separate her from her Mom's actions, I'd be yelling and screaming.  But, there's no way to do that.

I haven't heard her daughter

I haven't heard her daughter even mentioned in this discussion. In fact you are the only one bringing her up.

And, if its not fair, Goldman has only herself to blame. She is the one who instigated the situation.



I agree. We really don't know what's going on. The question remains, however... why didn't she just move her daughter back to her base assignment? All of this would have been avoided and transportation would have been provided. Instead she cherry-picked DDMS and demanded a bus. I can't imagine any situation that would require that as a solution.

Demanded a Bus

What makes you believe she demanded a bus. According to the policy, the administrative transfer Goldman was granted comes with transportation. It is the policy.


Think special needs.  Why would she have left the magnet middle school?  There's something going on here, and I'm not going to ask any further.

That said, I agree that school board members should not be able to individually assign their own children.  And, I agree that this has that appearance.  I just don't want to scrutinize whether a school board member is doing the right thing for their kids.

while I certainly agree and

while I certainly agree and am sad that a child has become the focus, think larger picture for the moment and realize what about all other parents that would advocate for their child's "special needs" and get continuously denied.

the concern remains, abuse of power/privilege, insider info (how many parents do you think know they could ask for this "special" dispensation) this just reeks.

so if/when my two children get denied (again) for a magnet app in a few weeks', can I then go for this "special" transfer request and expect to get bus service?  I would guess that would be a resounding NO.

and because of Goldman's "no" vote months ago, plans for change that many supported her for were shot to h*ll.....

again....the ramifications of these actions should be the focus not the particulars of a child.

If there were "special

If there were "special needs" why not go through normal channels? Who would deny a transfer for legitimate special needs? That it was done in secret without any paperwork or approvals and now Goldman is "unavailable for comment" sounds very, very suspicious.

It was an outrageously

It was an outrageously tone-deaf and selfish move on Goldman's -- and apparently Hargen's -- part considering the on-going controversy surrounding student assignment in Wake County.

aaah, must be so good to be

aaah, must be so good to be (prom) Queen......

so unfair

What a misuse of office.  I keep thinking about the news stories over the years about people who tried to get their children into certain schools for religious reasons (wasn't there a lawsuit?), to have access to orchestra when the program was eliminated at the student's current school.... things that seemed like a reasonable request.  These families were told NO, this is the policy and you must deal with it.  These are the types of situations that soured me over the years to WCPSS, and now, we find out that it just matters who you are and who you know.

So unfair. And so typical.


I'm still not convinced that Policy 6203 was actually "used" to approve this transfer. I think the policy is now being referenced as a way to backtrack and defend this verbally approved transfer.

Also, this policy does not specifically address the automatic approval of transportation. In my correspondence with Evans, he referenced Board policy 7105 (E-1) as "...the conditions under which the decision was made..." to provide transportation. However, E-2 of this policy states that the request must be submitted using a Transportation Request Form -- which Goldman did not do.

Really? So, there is a

Really? So, there is a special, "double secret" policy that over-rides all other standard policies that allows students to gain transfers to any school of their choosing AND get door to door transportation. That is truly amazing. I imagine the Superintendents' office will now be deluged with parents asking for these kind of special "Goldman" considerations. Gosh, I wonder if they will enjoy the same success in having their requests approved? Also, isn't Goldman chairperson of the POLICY committee? Hmm....

Can we see a copy of this double secret override policy that only requires a verbal request from an acting Superintendent? ?

You're getting warmer. 

You're getting warmer.  It's not about me.  It's about a system that ignores their own policy, making decisions that affect staff and students then refusing to answer the questions through avoidance or blurring the issue.

Two resignations

should be requested.

Mr. Hui needs to do a better job

of DEMANDING answers from her. She needs to be hounded by the media and every voter who voted for her, along with the rest of us who don't agree with how she's carrying on, to explain herself.

She can't hide and she can't ignore the public any longer. WE WANT ANSWERS!

Good luck with that.  The

Good luck with that.  The WCPSS and all connected with it simply refuse to answer questions and they think that makes it go away.  Just ask HR people about that......the former HR Super really loved Taffy candy from what I hear.

Sorry to hear that our

Sorry to hear that our school options... magnet or West Cary Middle aren't good enough for our representative to the school board. What message does this send to families, and potential buyers, in our neighborhood?  What does fleeing the magnet program say to magnet families?  Nothing good, that's for sure. 

I agree that the

I agree that the circumstances are a bit 'fishy', but I just want to say that leaving a magnet school isn't necessarily a bad thing.  Unless we hear otherwise, I wouldn't classify it as 'fleeing' the magnet school and I wouldn't say that it 'says something' to magnet families.  Not trying to be argumentative with you, it's just that magnets aren't always the best fit sometimes for various reasons.  We left a magnet elem after 4 years and it is a school that I highly recommend to people because it's a great school. 

What Bothers Me...

is I know at least 7 people that are wanting to get their kids out of their middle school assignment for next year.  They are hoping to have a choice next year...maybe Ms. Goldman can help them out!

That's nothing, did you know

That's nothing, did you know that state law allows anyone with a child (who claim homelessness) to get a bus to come pick them up wherever they are?  That is a great way to help people who are homeless, but did you also know that those people who qualify get to choose the school in which they want to attend?  They get to chosse which school they want!

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.