It's not an understatement to say that internal Wake County school board emails showed a lot of suspicion in regard to how the student assignment plan review process has played out.
On the Democratic side, you have board member Jim Martin expressing suspicion that staff was trying to discourage them from changing the plan. On the Republican side, you have several board members expressing suspicion that the Democrats were moving to delay the plan.
You have Democratic school board chairman Kevin Hill trying to reassure both sides.
Let's start with a Dec. 14 email from Hill to Superintendent Tony Tata and the board asking for time at the Dec. 20 work session to discuss the assignment plan. Hill also asks that an action item on the plan be added to the Dec. 20 regular board meeting.
But the next day on Dec. 15, Hill sends an email message to the board saying they're not going to deal with the plan on Dec. 20.
"We made the decision not to add a work session item or action item looking at student assignment, feeling we would not have adequate time for discussion," Hill writes. "We did schedule a single item work session for the afternoon of January 3, 2012."
In a Dec. 15 message, Martin asks Hill "Are you confident that delaying any discussion to January 3 is not an effort to get even further down the road of 'we can't turn back.''
"The more I am forced into a situation where my hands are tied, the more
likely I will resist," Martin adds. "I do not like the way addressing this assignment plan is turning into a game of Russian Roulette.
The longer we put things off, the more likely swords will need to be fallen on. Which is a horrible way to conduct business, and is destructive for kids and all who work at the schools."
"I am . . . And we do need to chat . . . I'm trying to build some bridges here ("Getting Past No!")," Hill responds to Martin in a email message later that day.
The decision to hold a Jan. 3 work session just on student assignment leads to a variety of questions and complaints from the Republican board members. Here are some examples:
In a Dec. 22 message that board member Chris Malone sent to Goldman and copied to the whole board and Tata, Malone writes that "My other concern is that this issue will hang on and be discussed ad nauseum with the intent to dely the plan from implementation."
"This sure looks like delay on the assignment plan to me," board member Deborah Prickett responds to Malone in a Dec. 22 message that was copied to the full board and Tata. "Is the one item work session serving as a facade (or micro managing?) to look like hard work just for show to the public?"
In another Dec. 22 message, Goldman questions why the Jan. 3 meeting was scheduled for the main board room when work sessions are usually held in the board conference room.
"This one item agenda session is sounding more and more like playing to the press and party propaganda, than an actual worksession," Goldman writes.
The Jan. 3 meeting was moved to the conference room.
In a Dec. 26 message, Goldman writes that "I find it disturbing that there is even a thought to change anything about this previously adopted plan, at way PAST the last minute." The message was addressed to Malone and copied to the board and Tata.
"I'm flabbergasted that this Board majority would even consider putting this entire county into a state of upheaval again!" Goldman adds.
In a Dec. 29 message to the whole board and Tata, Goldman levels a number of charges at Hill, including accusing him of violating the board's trust. She accuses Hill of having waited until he was out of town during winter break to schedule Michael Alves to speak at the Jan. 3 meeting. (Alves didn't speak at the meeting.)
"It is being made clear that there is clearly a hidden, alternative agenda, than a "face to face, round table, board only work session and discussion" here," Goldman writes.
In his Dec. 30 message replying to the whole board and Tata, Hill tells Goldman to "stop jumping to conclusions and making assumptions, and then taking aim." He adds it's "news to me" that Alves would be presenting.
"So in the future before you crucify me, please simply be professional enough to ask," Hill writes.
The Jan. 3 work session didn't sit well with Martin, who expressed his frustrations in a Jan. 5 message replying to one sent by Rhonda Curtright. Martin only copied the message to the other four Democratic board members.
"I am quite frustrated that to date I have largely sensed "official' resistance to actually taking action on systemic matters," Martin writes. "The only exception being an 'offer' of adding a simplistic solution of set-asides. This 'offer,' as presented so far, sadly increases the risk of increased conflict with portrayal as a 'quota' system.
Action seems to be taken only when enough people are vocal about a particular niche issue, which is leading to a band-aid approach to plan modification. This is what gets every plan or practice in trouble...pocket-analysis instead of systems thinking.
I truly hope we can get past what feels to me like a 'sales job' on this plan, and actually have those working on the plan recognize some of the systemic challenges and actually do something about it instead of only suggesting there are tweaks that can be done in the future."
Click here to view the email messages referenced in the post.