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Wake County school board members Deborah Prickett and Debra Goldman sound off about GSIW and the public's behavior

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Wake County school board members Deborah Prickett and Debra Goldman sounded off today about student assignment and the behavior of the public.

During her board member comments, Prickett said she felt she had to respond to today's "irresponsible" press release from "the small fringe group" Great Schools in Wake Coalition. She argued that GSIW's "Let's Find a Better Way" campaign failed to acknowledge that a catalyst for the new student assignment plan was how parents were fed up with the "archaic node assignment system."

"We’ve gone from a controlling do as I say system to families having a choice," Prickett said.

During her comments, Goldman said she wanted to address the "disrespectful" tenor of speakers at the last school board meeting. She asked board chairman Kevin Hill to exercise more control to make sure speakers adhere to the comment policy.

Goldman said she also wanted to make sure the board wasn't spending it's time changing the directives made over the past few years. She said it was causing parents to be confused about the direction of the school system.


Karen Carter, one of the speakers at the meeting tonight, raised the same points about the behavior at the March 27 meeting. Here's a copy of the email she sent after the last board meeting to Hill:

Dear Mr. Hill,

I attended the March 27th Board Meeting.  I was overwhelmed by the overall conduct of several people present.  I have not been to any Board of Education meeting before and after the meeting last night, I am not sure when I will attend again.  It was an atmosphere of hostility and disrespect.  There were numerous disruptions and interruptions by those in the audience.  Some examples are as follows:

   When Debra Goldman offered up a prayer, several members in the audience loudly said oh my god and moaned all while the prayer was being said.

   During public comments Amy Lee directed personal insults and attack at Mr. Tata when she stated, "Liar, liar pants on fire.  Mr. Tata are your pants on fire? From the public's perspective, your pants are on raging fire."

   Throughout the entire Board Meeting up until the last public agenda item, there was so many distractingly loud moans, sighs, "Oh my God!", and "What?"  when certain board members tried to speak.  It did not matter what they were speaking on.

   At one point when Debra Goldman was speaking, someone from the audience, yelled out, "Why don't you offer up a prayer?"

This type of behavior being tolerated is quite concerning to me and appears to encourage an atmosphere at the Board of Education meetings that discourages participation from the general public due to the interruptions and hostile environment.

After reviewing Board Policy, I have found several policies that were out of compliance last night:

   According to Policy 1323 Rules of Order Section B. Role of the Chair

"4. Determine whether a speaker has gone beyond reasonable standards of courtesy in her/his remarks and to entertain and rule on objections from other members on this ground."

   According to Policy 1326 Public Participation at Board Meetings

"14. Speakers are welcome to offer comments or criticism directed at substantive ideas, actions or procedures of the Board, individual Board members, or staff. In the interest of maintaining civility and decorum, however, speakers are encouraged to refrain from personal attacks and insults directed at the Board, individual Board members, staff, or members of the general public."

"16. Any person who interrupts, disturbs, or disrupts the Board meeting may be directed to leave the premises by the Board Chair."

"17. Members of the audience should show respect for each speaker by refraining from loud comments or other disruptions."

   According to Policy 1330 Disruptions of Meetings

"Persons, who willfully interrupt, disrupt, or cause disturbances at an official meeting of the board may be directed to leave by the presiding officer. If any such person refuses to leave after being directed to do so, pursuant to General Statute 143-318.17, he or she is guilty of a misdemeanor."

Clearly the specific list of the actions displayed by some at the meeting last night violated the above policies.  I ask that at future meetings, these policies be applied so that anyone from the public may attend and not feel threatened by the behavior being displayed.  Could you please let me know how you as the Chair will address these issues if they should arise again?

Thank you for you assistance with this matter.

Karen Carter

1334113707 Wake County school board members Deborah Prickett and Debra Goldman sound off about GSIW and the public's behavior 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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Thank you, K. Carter

I spoke at the March 27 School Board meeting, and stayed to hear the rest of the speakers. It sickened me to hear Ms. Lee's comments to Superintendent Tata, and to witness the applause after she spoke. There certainly needs to be a line drawn, because personal insults of that nature have no business in a School Board setting.

For one thing, children are often present at those meetings - sometimes young students waiting to be recognized for achievements, etc., or children that parents have to bring if no childcare is available. I have taken my own student in the past, but would certainly think twice before I took a child now-a-days.

For those who haven't attended School Board meetings in the past - this behavior is fairly new. Public "shout-outs" should not be tolerated, nor should personal insults and hate-filled language. Mr. Margiotta put up with enough of it during his tenure as School Board chairman. This needs to be nipped in the bud now.

Not too long ago, some folks stayed away from School Board meetings out of fear. Now, Ms. Martin is not the only citizen who has contemplated steering clear of these meetings out of disgust and concern. When I describe to non-Wake County residents what takes place at some of our School Board meetings, they often laugh until they realize that I am serious. Then they are are shocked.

The sense of pride in our school system - so prevalent for years and years - is waning. The School Board needs to lead the way in re-establishing that pride, and setting a tone of decency and respect, in Board meetings as well as in emails, conversations, etc., is a must.

Thank you Ms. Carter!  I am

Thank you Ms. Carter!  I am glad that somebody besides people like Backhouse or myself are writing LTEs and emailing Hill with their concerns.  It is far too easy for Hill and others to blow off our concerns as coming from somebody with 'sour grapes'. 

Board meetings are often a hostile environment and I imagine that a lot of people would be intimidated to speak and in some cases, even attend at all.  I really hope that Hill addresses this.


Believe me, I frequently contact board members with concerns, information, suggestions, etc.   But I think you know that :^) And yes, it is very encouraging to see that others are doing likewise. What a well-thought-out, well-researched and well-written email Ms. Martin wrote. She got her message across - firmly but respectfully!

See Mark 6:5-6.

Recently Ms. Goldman spoke to an conservative audience at a campaign stop in Rowan county where she made a lot of hay over the fact that he was getting flack for praying at the school board meeting.  I cannot believe she is now using prayer as a cheap political stunt to further her own political ambitions.  She needs to re-read Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount where He says:

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. “ Mark 6: 5-6.

Her prayer was political grandstanding. is demonstrated by her subsequent use of the incident on the campaign trail.  Shameful.

I find Goldman's use of the

I find Goldman's use of the prayer incident as eye roll inducing as you do, but that doesn't negate the fact that audience behavior is abhorrent at these meetings. 


I agree that it was political grantstanding.  But, it was still rude to interrupt it.

Ant ruder than texting while others have the floor?

Something Goldman does ALL the time.  One leads by example and if this is the example she is etting she should not be surprised others booed her. 


Can anyone request those texts ?  I bet it would make good reading. 


You're telling me that the GSIW folks are being led by Goldman?  And, yes, ruder than that.


Just saying "you reap what you sow. " Goldman, a devote Christian, should understand this.

As to your point, I think texting is WAY ruder.  At least the folks groaning were polite enough to listen to what Goldman was saying. 

It really cuts to the very foundation of a democratic system when elected officials are not even willing to listen to what their constituents have to say.  Folks like Goldman and Tedesco, who calls all those opposed to his plan "haters" are really missing an excellent opportunity to govern effectively by simply refusing to even consider another point of view.  It is also exceedingly anti-intellectual., but that is no surprise. 

Every been to the

House of Commons in London?  This ain't nothing.


I've seen it on TV; never been.  But, they also eat shepherd's pie.  The fact that the British do something doesn't mean that it's proper in the US.

Shepherd's pie

So what is wrong with shepherd's pie ?  As with many things different versions have been introduced over time.  

As far as behavior, it all depends on where you are from and what you are use to.  Up North the preference is to be in your face, whereas in the south a stab in the back. Since we are a melting pot there are many styles.  


To each his own, I suppose. I prefer the version made without meat or vegetables, but with blueberries inside.

I have family members who were on school boards in northern districts, and that sort of thing was unheard of.

This is not a matter of

This is not a matter of styles.  It is about rude and disruptive behavior that in some cases appears to be in violation of board policy.  If this behavior had been going on before the 2009 elections I'd chalk it up to standard accepted practices in Wake County.  As somebody else put it, these people are spoiled, bratty children who did not get their way and now think that they can throw tantrums to get what they want.  

Besides, I don't think any of the rude speakers are 'in your face' New Yorkers.  Amy Lee is from NC if I remember correctly.  Maybe she was raised by northerners. ;)

Fair enough

Fair enough.  I just don't concern myself with people with rude behavior, I just tune them out and dismiss outright as they are not worth the time or effort.  Maybe Goldman is on to something, when a speaker starts behaving badly the board members  should just pull out their cell phone and play angry birds or something like that.  Ignore the bully and they will go away. 

The problem with that is

The problem with that is that she does not only do it when speakers are "behaving badly."

Manners and respect for

Manners and respect for others is not a Northern or Southern thing. Rudeness is not relegate to specific geographic areas.

I agree.  I was only

I agree.  I was only repsonding to Solon's comments.

I meant to post under Solon.

I meant to post under Solon. I agree with you.



Choice? You mean lottery.

The new system is not a choice system.  It's a lottery.  The only "choice" we get is to pick our 5 numbers.

My rising 5th grader STILL is waitlisted at the school she *currently* attends, but didn't make the cut for grandfathering.

please explain


You may have already explained this and I missed it. I'm curious about your daughter's situation.  Was she attending as a transfer student?   

She probably started at that

She probably started at that school after January 13th which was the cutoff. Of course, none of us knew that until about January 10th or so. If we had known earlier, we could have transferred our children to a school with the desired "feeder pattern" instead of being pre-assigned to a distant school with no transportation. All 3 high schools in mid-town are full with waiting lists. Anyone with a 9th grader needs to move to a fringe area of the county to even have a "choice". And nothing is being done about this. We've been waiting for 2 months and they still have not worked the "proximity/lottery" waitlists. The last update said April 9th which was 2 days ago. Still haven't worked it and have given no updates. Parents are tired of waiting and not being updated on the situation.

I sent an email to Judith

I sent an email to Judith Peppler today and was told the lists have not been updated and advised to hold my waiting list spot. This despite the fact that we are on the waiting list for -6 seats and round two closes tomorrow and we don't know if she's telling us to hold our wait list spot because she knows they will increase capacity or what. We are waiting for the school our neighborhood goes to but also anxious to get off a feeder pattern we don't want. There was a school added in round two that gets us on a feeder pattern with the neighborhood but that is not attended by the neighborhood. Without more definitive info, we feel we're rolling the dice to stay on the waiting list and lose the chance on getting to a school that has a good feeder pattern but it grates to give up a spot not knowing if we were going to get in or not.

It is unacceptable that the wait lists have not been dealt with so that parents who have been left hanging would know whether they should go through round two or not.

Which 3 high schools? 

Which 3 high schools?  Sanderson, Millbrook, and Broughton?  Or Leesville?  Just curious which three you are referring to.

It is rather interesting to me that for a few years now we've been hearing about how explosive the growth has been in the Wakefield and Wake Forest area but we're not seeing the capacity issues that you are.  Wakefield is tight on seats but Wake Forest & Heritage both have more seats than applicants. 

Broughton, Sanderson and

Broughton, Sanderson and Millbrook are full with waiting lists. Millbrook is currently at negative 112 with a waiting list of 280 from choice round 1. Broughton is at negative 9 with 109 on the waitlist from round 1. Whoever did Sanderson's numbers wasn't very good at math! Sanderson has 7 seats available with 31 on the waitlist from round 1. Apparently, Leesville has seats available because some who live near me and didn't get assigned at all were given the option to choose Leesville in round 2. Since the original 3 choices were full, they added a 4th. Of course, Leesville is not "proximate" and can't imagine them sending a bus to pick up a couple of people inside the beltline - what a waste of gas! The more we learn about this plan, the more expensive it seems to implement. Does Wake County own enough busses? Actually, they won't need busses for many of these routes - a minivan would serve the purpose.


Of course no really knows at this point how they are planning to implement bussing for next year, but my guess is that there will be many more routes that serve multiple schools. In a relatively recent article, the director of transportation said that the average bus ride would go from 14 to 22 minutes next year, meaning the bus routes are getting longer. Since my kids have ridden on a bus for years that serves three schools, I can tell you that it is more efficient, but it does extend the bus rides significantly.

I thought that some of the

I thought that some of the comments were definitely out of line and booing is never good manners but I do understand the frustration that led to some loud sighs when student assignment gave their update. They said a few things that contradicted other communication they had had with parents and glossed over some real problems - for parents who still don't know where their kids will go to school and who couldn't refute what was being said due to the structure of the meeting, a loud sigh was all they had. I think I may have sighed when they showed the slide of a "typical" choice plan that showed numerous seats at all the schools listed - no one in the room had a choice plan like that - most parents had one that showed negative seats at all their schools.

I really wish we could move past this petty crap - reading old board emails and lamenting about manners - and actually address the problems with the plan. Has Goldman taken any action to do that? Or anyone on the board? Those of us on proximity waiting lists were initially told they would update those lists on March 26. Then we were told that none of the proximity waiting lists would be dealt with until April 9. The second choice round closes tomorrow and still no word on the status of those lists. And it will be two more weeks until the results of the second round are available. (Unless they once again change the date...)

As I've said repeatedly, if it is truly such a small number of families negatively impacted by this plan, they should have been able to either deal with it by now, or personally communicate with those families to tell them what action they will be taking. The fact that they haven't is only fueling the fire and adding to the perception that they don't know what they're doing. I personally have been told conflicting things by student assignment depending on who answers the email that day.

Just from 'knowing' you for

Just from 'knowing' you for a brief time here on this blog, tropicalgirl, I cannot imagine that you were one of the people who came across as a jerk.  Even if you did sigh. ;)  I try to cut people some slack & hearing somebody sigh when student assignment was speaking would be understandable to me.  I've been to many board meetings, though, and know who the regular rude people are so I guess I can understand that the letter writer might not and just lump all the 'disruptive' audience members together. 

Thanks jenman. I actually

Thanks jenman. I actually had no problem with the letter-writer. I'm more annoyed at Goldman making it an issue only because she's a member of the board that has some say over this plan and I don't see her (or anyone else on the board) really doing anything to address the problems - until she does that, it's hard to take seriously her public outrage over the ill-mannered or public plea for prayer or whatever her latest play for attention is. And I think that GSIW does themselves a disservice by acting that way in public. I am so turned off by the behavior that their message - which may include some good things - is completely lost on me.

I can understand the

I can understand the annoyance with Goldman and I agree.  All the board members are afraid to do anything of substance regarding this plan.

I don't understand why they are leaving these 200 some families hanging.  If they are having this much trouble placing all of you, what on earth are they going to do when people move into those same areas? 

Board Policy

Thanks for updating and including the new information!


I'm paying 2-1 odds that either (1) they were booed for saying this, or (2) some of the GSIW kingpins berate them for it during the public comment period.

I bet both happened.  It is

I bet both happened.  It is a bit funny for Goldman to say that Hill should have tighter control over the meetings when Ron let this behavior continue.  Not that I'm really complaining about Ron.  I wish he had nipped it in the bud but he was in an awkward position.  If he was too harsh on them they'd rip him a new one for it.  He let the behavior go on and now I'm criticizing him for it.  Either way he was screwed.

I know I've mentioned this several times before but I was at a community engagement hearing when they were talking about making the MYR conversions.  A parent got up to speak and she was pretty angry & said something to Dulaney like "you don't even care about what you're doing to these kids".  Dulaney snapped back at her and told her not to dare tell him that he doesn't care about the kids.  He was right that she shouldn't have spoken to him that way, but I know without a doubt that if Ron or JT ever snapped  like that at somebody they (GSIW, Brannon, Barber et al) would be screaming about it. 

Both of which the 1st

Both of which the 1st amendment guaranties them the right to do.

Dont take away some yahoo's guns, but please dont criticize our public officials.

Uhh... No...

Perhaps during the comment period, although the board is allowed to limit that to specific topics and move off-topic issues to the end.  However, booing during the meeting itself does not fall within the 1st amendment.  Try booing from the House Gallery and see how long you're allowed to stay.  Rosa Gill, when she was chair, had a much tighter leash and had people booted and 'trespassed' for less.

God forbid

folks use a "disrectful" tone now that they realize ole Debbie and the rest of her right wing cronies jammed Art Pope's agenda down our throats with lies and deception.  Now that we know how screwed up their plan is and how its going to ruin WCPSS, she is getting her little feelings hurt?  And she seeks higher office?  Wow!

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About the blogger

T. Keung Hui covers Wake schools.