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?

WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui. While Keung posts information and analysis on the issues, keep us posted on your suggestions, questions, tips and what you're doing to cope with the changes in Wake's schools.

Choose a blog

State orders Wake to develop new alternative program for long-term suspended students

Bookmark and Share

The state Department of Public Instruction is ordering the Wake County school system to develop a new alternative program after determining that was put in place to replace the Richard Milburn High School isn't enough.

Wake had dropped Richard Milburn last year for budgetary reasons, replacing it with an online program to serve long-term suspended students. But in a DPI investigation of Wake's special-ed services, the state found that the new program wasn't adequate for meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

In the absence of Richard Milburn, the report noted that around 200 long-term students were receiving instruction at home on weekends and after-school. But the report found that the Wake was providing these students with less than six hours of weekly instruction.

The report also found that many of the long-term suspended students receiving homebound instruction had not been promoted several times and had been suspended several times without getting proper special education services.

The investigation began after a complaint was filed by Advocates for Children’s Services, a non-profit group which has represented a number of students who’ve received long-term suspensions.

"The WCPSS should be ashamed," according to an ACS press release today, "It has deliberately deprived some of our most vulnerable children of the education they so desperately need and to which they have a right under state and federal law. This should be a wake up call for Wake County: You cannot ignore the law and treat vulnerable children and families unfairly!"


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

School should be a privilege

School should be a privilege not a right ... if these kids are dangerous and have hurt other students or teachers, they probably should not be let back into a public school without therapy .... any idea that these kids have been removed for and from which schools?

Sometimes a combination of

Sometimes a combination of therapy and legal consequences.  It's a long and complicated process.

You might try

You might try clicking on the ACS link. If you look at their Annual Report, it doesn't have a listing but does have some stories that illustrate the issues.


It is such a sad situation

It is such a sad situation ... some of the kids in my wife's classed clearly do not want to be in school ... many are absent >20 days a semester ... typically, the police go get them and “force” them to be in school ... which they resent and act out to show their anger ... often they prevent the rest of the class from learning to make others suffer too ... I mentioned before  that my wife's said that her academic class of say 30 kids has a passing rate of say 60% but if 1-3 kids were removed she thinks she could get the other 27 ALL to pass (27/30 = 90% same as “good” schools).   The 1-3 kids take up so much of her time with discipline, after school, meeting, missed work, etc. that the other 27 suffer.  With education being a “right” kids who do not want to be in school will take as many other kids down with them to express their anger at being forced to go to school.


I mentioned it before that it starts in ES and MS where these kids are passed along with the EOGs.  But by the time they get to HS, they are surprised to learn they need to pass the EOC’s to move up and graduate ….  But by HS they can not read and they are lost and bored … they just sit there with a blank stare like a MS would look in a college class … being bored and not being able to progress, they act out … are suspended … lose more ground … are forced back in to class … skip until the police find them … act out … get suspended … just waiting until they are 18 and can be free of school … note, this is where vocational school would help kids who are not going to college has a reason for staying and wanting to be in school …  


I would have thought..

that there were vocational classes in Wake County's High Schools.  When I was in high school, some of the kids hopped on the bus to go to the "vocational school" in the afternoon.

If they can offer AP classes, they should be able to offer some vocational classes. 

Much of vocational training

Much of vocational training in Wake are considered electives for college bound students … sort of a break between AP course to take a little wood or auto shop … it is not a comprehensive program to certify kids to be auto / HVAC mechanics, welders, plumbers, etc. at graduation for the most part like was common when you had two HSs – Central and Tech – in most towns for the business / college kids and the vocational kids.  Even worse is that the programs are spread across the county with each HS have a little VoTech … for example Apex had Auto shop for a number of years, the system lost interest, got rid of the class and equipment … dry spell … than decided to restart the program and had to buy or get donate equipment to restart …


Apex Auto Shop


 Wake site….http://www.wcpss.net/school_to_career/cte/index.html



Most hs's have extensive Voc Tech programs ranging from business, tech, marketing, horticulture, wood shop, etc. Auto and Health occuptions (and others) are extremely expensive programs and they take up serious sq footage in a building. But the real difficult part, eluded to in your article, is finding people who will teach it. No principal wants to create a schedule and then PRAY he can find a good teacher. Nurses for example aren't going to work for 35K when a nurse can make 45-50K straight out of school, the same is true for experienced auto mechanics who need "management" experience and have the personality to work with students. Welders and electricians can make double what a teacher makes. In NC the serious training is left to the community colleges.

Oh yes 40 years ago a high school diploma may have been enough.....not now unless you are an exceptional focused student (and not going to university)...there is a reason why the universities have been funded so well (at least in the past)

I'm not certain I agree with that philosophy, but that's NC.

who will teach ?

I think exYank has hit on one of the big issues:  who will teach these classes if they can make more at another job ?  Perhaps the school system recruits people who have other jobs to teach these classes part-time ?


I heard of an opposite situation where someone from the community offered to teach one of these type of classes and was told no thank you because they do not have a teaching certificate.

Isn't a teaching certificate a minimum requirement

for any teaching position?  It reminds me of nurses who could perform many functions as a doctor, but legally, those tasks must be performed by a doctor.


Ironically, the person TPG mentioned could teach the same class at a community college.  That, to me, is one problem with the education system.  It's not the same thing as a nurse performing a doctor's functions because teaching high school students and college students is pretty similar.  (Although even the medical profession is starting to ease up on some of the archaic divisions of labor that used to exist.) 


So, I'll be interested to hear comments from teachers on the value of a teaching certificate.  My impression is that the most important skills for a teacher are classroom management, followed by mastery of the subject they teach, but that it's possible to get a teaching certificate without either of those skills.



Wonder where they would put the one or more vocational schools for those who elect to not pursue a college degree.

My proposal would be a

My proposal would be a student goes two years in their local HS and crams all the English, Math, Social Sc. etc. possible and travels to a VoTech School for his/her Junior/Senior year to complete the VoTech program  ...they could still play sports at their local HS ... by JR/Sr year many could drive and others could get an express bus ... personally, I would create two VoTech campuses on opposite sides of Raleigh, just OTB so they would be as accessible as possible ...

I think the only thing you

I think the only thing you and I have ever agreed on is the need for vocational education. It is an absolute must if we ever really intend to reach all students. There is a percentage of students who just are not going to go to college -- at least not right out of high school -- and many of them do not see the value of attending a traditional college-focused school. Too often these kids drop out or do poorly because there is no alternative available to them. PLUS!! we need people with the skills provided by vocation education. Vocation education can include well-paying jobs in healthcare, IT, plumbing, construction, design, etc.

Make it so

So put the squeeze on your team ... they don't listen to us ....  I would have loved 9-15 months of figuring out creating a VoTech program than a new assignment program.

"Team?" Hardly. I believe

"Team?" Hardly.

I believe that Tedesco has mentioned votech in the concept. Grad rates and drop-put rates would improve immediately if there was a votech option for students.

For some reason, Wake County

For some reason, Wake County doesn't seem to realize that not every student is interested or capable of going to college.  People have different strengths, not everyone neeeds to follow an academic path.  Your description of what happens to these students is very accurate.

Now, how do we get Wake County to understand this concept?

How soon do you think you

How soon do you think you could tell that a certain child is less likely to go to college?  Do you think it could be by 8th grade?


There is no formula for

There is no formula for determining who is college bound and who is not.  Many factors are involved motivation, aspirations, interests, ability, etc.  The decision is a complex process.

My guess ...with SAS

My guess ...with SAS predictive SW, you could estimate who will graduate and who will go to college with 90% accuracy in 1st grade using race, family income, parent's education, node, ES/MS/HS assigned, etc.  Sometimes people beat the odds so you can not let the computer determine the future as absolute just estimate it ... it is up to the kid, parents and school to beat the odds.

No Way

Education should be a fundamental right, not a privilege.  And in NC it IS a right guaranteed by the state constitution.

ACS Press Release

Having been a family on the receiving end of inane ISS and Silent Lunch suspensions this year, I can tell you there's the "suspension criteria" posted by WCPSS, and then there's the individual school suspensions that are being administered by the Assistant Principals in the school, that are not detailed anywhere, ISS (1 day) suspensions have been for things like not doing/turning in homework, and we just get a note home that's there going to be one. There's obviously no recourse, and where teachers should handle that, they just don't want to take the time to handle, so getting these children to have two days out of classroom, where they miss the days' instruction, they sit in the room with a person, who has them finish their homework. Try fighting the suspensions, and you get the AP and the teachers mad at the kid, and just watching and waiting for an additional oopsie, so they can tag them again. Suspension criteria should be clearly written down somewhere, and they should not be used for every little bitty issue. Students should remain in the classrooms if at all possible and get the teaching days they need.No wonder there is such a high rate in WCPSS.  They are not given judiciously.

As a parent you are in a

As a parent you are in a very difficult position.  Teachers are trained to teach and manage a classroom.  It may not be that they do not want to take the time to handle disruptive, etc classroom behavior.  I suspect they may be attempting to manage an overcrowded classroom, often with several students needing individual attention.  Under these conditions, you are your child's best advocate.  You might consider requesting a meeting involving you, your child, teachers, administrator and someone who can fairly rerpresent you and the school.

When A Child Gets In Trouble

There is no child advocate to act for that child.  She was assumed to be guilty,  "He" said she did it, a teacher did not see it, a mother tried to talk sense to the teacher and the AP, she even wrote to the principal, and to the due process department at WCPSS - the teacher and the principal got madder at me, I've never even received a communication for the Pricinpal or the due process department.  Then two days later my child was tagged for an additional punishment by those same people. 

 Parents and students need an advocate or middleperson, some infractions must be open to discussion, and some one from that Middle School in Apex should have taken my call, responded to my e-mail, or responded to my request for a meeting.  The school becomes the prison guards, and students (not prisioners) do not have a voice, or a hearing with their parents there.  The last incident was a he said/she said - simple little nothing on the playground that no one saw, no one reported, only the perpetrator (he said)..She got suspension. Sorry about fairness - How many suspensions are really needed, and do they at all learn students good judgment, fairness, and positive peer problem resolution to prepare them for success.

Those traits are

Those traitss are (allegedly) "learned" through the Character Education Program.  The students are taught judgement, integrity, etc.  Like you, I saw too many administrators who did not demonstrate those qualities.

See if the school social worker (elementary and middle) or  Sap ( high school) can be of help.  The school guidance office can help you get in touch with them.

Student Achievement Committee Agenda?

Keung (or anyone else) -- Is there a published agenda for tomorrow's Student Achievement committee meeting?

I was planning on blogging

I was planning on blogging about it Tuesday morning.

Themed academies

Wasn't a themed academy for suspended students part of the zone plan presented? Good thing - just in time. Maybe that part of the plan could be expedited.

needs improvement

I had high hopes that Sutton and Tedesco would immediately start work on dealing with the problems of suspensions in the county. I still hope that will happen though, as far as I know, that committee has never met. Obviously children who have failed repeatedly (as the article states), have special needs and are on long-term suspension do not have the self discipline or perhaps even the capacity to learn on line. Taking on line courses takes enormous concentration and self motivation. Talk about failing our most vulnerable children! Just as this board has done with some of its budget cuts this year, cutting the high school program last year was a terrible decision. Here is a good example of the kind of program that needs MORE funding not less if the county is truly committed to improving the graduation rate.

Fellow Teachers?

Chime in here......actually, the opposite is true.  If a child has an IEP or 504 (special needs or EC) that child will have their grades "padded" so as not to be failed.  The EOG that is given them is a special test.  They will pass.  I have been teaching for 13 years and NEVER have I seen a special needs child retained.


So, my kid's school told parents, point blank, that "we don't retain based on EOG scores."  I suspect that you're talking about severely disabled students -- there are plenty of students with mild issues whose IEP may, for example, allow them to write in the book instead of bubble-in the answer key.   To my knowledge, they get the same EOG as everybody else.


In answer to the question of middle school in which I teach.  Actually, many IEP and 504 students do take the regular EOGs, but some also take the EXTENDX 2 which has less distractors.  For example, standard tests have 4 choices where an EXTENDX test may have three or 2 answers.

Before most of the students leave middle school they are exited from the EC program and in high school they are on what is acalled a "consult."  They have a etacher who will assist them, but they are not followed as closely as they were in elem or MS. 

Some years ago a directive came down from DPI (or it may have been simply WCPSS CO) that any student who failed the reading and/or math EOG would be retained.  That never happened.


Willy ... my wife said that

Willy ... my wife said that ES and MS kids get passed along whether they pass their EOGs or not .... and by the time they get to HS they do not care if they pass the these tests or not ... so it is a surprise when they get to HS and can not move up  unless they pass the EOGs which is why she has a number of 18 year olds in her 9th grade class for the fourth time ... unfortunately, since they did not learn to read in ES and MS, it is too late for them in HS ... they sit in her 9th grade class (disrupting 14 years olds) until they age out.   I guess the ES/MS are too crowded to keep kids back and actually make sure they can read before entering HS.

Some students get promoted

Some students get promoted because of their age.  Don't know if anyone has heard the term "gray area child" .  IQ is low but not low enough for special programs nor is the dicrepancy between IQ and performance enough to qualify them for special programs (usually SLD).  The schools have nothing to offer these students.

Isn't some of that a

Isn't some of that a function of programs that aren't based in district decisions, like NCLB?

And I still don't understand what difference a kid being passed from 7th to 8th grade who maybe should have been retained makes when the conversation is about trying to give a certain group of kids more of a chance to graduate.

Outside of a classroom I

Outside of a classroom I would probably think the same way.  I'm not talking about students who have trouble completing homework or cannot grasp the Pythagorean Theorem.  I'm talking about 8th graders passed along who cannot read or write.  Cannot spell words like cat, bath, sold....and many other very basic words.  I'm talking about kids who have no organizational skills or study skills. 

Didn't you say you teach

Didn't you say you teach middle school?

Aren't they talking about kids in high school?

MS Long Term

I thought I'd get a jump on the post for middle school.  A few eyars ago I sat in on a long term suspension for a student who brought a knife to school and was suspended for the rest of the year.  The review upheld the suspension.  However, that student would arrive at school (at least an hour before school started) and would sit in the office (alone) for that time period waiting for a teacher who would tutor this student during the day.  Hmmmmmm  Seems like more problems in MS, too.


So the suspended child got one-on-one tutoring for the remainder of the year?   Doesn't that support the argument about these children needing additional resource and time?   Did this student receive a standard test(s) or a modified easier test(s)?

This child was not EC

This child was not EC


Thanks for clarifying

As a teacher my issue would

As a teacher my issue would be that a kinife carrying student is on campus for 1 hour unsupervised.  Yes, I agree, this student should have access to an education.  To be suspended for 365 days and then allowed back on campus unsupervised sends that student a scewed message as well as every student that walks by the window and sees them sitting there.

Never did know who.

In high school, we had someone who not only brought a knife to school but actually stabbed another student as they passed them on a stair well.   Left a nice blood trail to the nurse's office.  The person who was stabbed elected to not reveal the identify of the knife-wielder.   As a result, we all, teachers and students alike, completed the rest of the year with no one getting identified or suspended (except for the victim who wouldn't "tell").  

Possibly gang related.  In

Possibly gang related.  In that case no one will talk.

Not really

In this case, it was more of a culture clash.

Thanks for the clarification.

Thanks for the clarification.




it's thug and scum related and no one talks so bone thug walks free. Shame on all involved for not ending that particular cycle of ignorance!

tough call

If you were the kid, would you expect the school system to keep you safe or even really do all that much about the stabber if you told on him?  Maybe send him to a "seat in a classroom" for a while then "normalize" him back into civilized society (at that or another school)?

Cars View All
Find a Car
Jobs View All
Find a Job
Homes View All
Find a Home

Want to post a comment?

In order to join the conversation, you must be a member of newsobserver.com. Click here to register or to log in.

About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.