The Wake County school system is formally putting the feds on notice that they're upset with the decision to hold Wednesday's community meeting at Martin Street Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh.
In this letter today to federal officials, Wake school board attorney Ann Majestic argues that there is “no evidence that OCR made any attempts to ensure that the hearing would be held in a neutral location or that the event was widely publicized in the community.”
Majestic writes that Martin Street Baptist is “a decidedly non-neutral location,” citing how critics of the school board have frequently held events there.
Aside from being advertised on the blog run by Cash Michaels, whom Majestic notes "has been staunchly critical of the current Board," she questions how else the meeting is being advertised to the general public.
“Clearly, this approach is not designed to obtain a balanced, representative view of the challenged board actions from the community at large,” Majestic writes. “Instead, it is likely to be little more than a media event, producing more heat but shedding very little light on the legal issues being investigated by your agency.”
Wake first learned about the meeting from the blogs. According to an e-mail from the feds, they "simply forgot" to notify Wake about the meeting after asked the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to find a location.
Federal officials are now offering to hold a second community meeting in late May or early June at a location to be arranged by the school system. Majestic said she’ll discuss the offer with the school board but she questions whether these kinds of meetings are “a legitimate means of fact-finding in this case.”
“I do not believe that a public hearing in which citizens self-select to comment on the allegations in the complaint can lead to reliable evidence for your fact-finding, as there is no opportunity to test the credibility of the speakers,” Majestic writes.
In addition to raising concerns about Wednesday’s meeting, Majestic says Wake recently learned about a “van tour” and “community meeting” that federal officials held in December with groups who filed the complaint. She questions the lack of notices of that meeting to the board or the general public.
In a blog post today, Cash Michaels is accusing Ann Majestic of not telling the truth in her OCR letter by writing that she didn't know how the meeting was being advertised.
Michaels is pointing to how there was a blog post in the WakeED blog about it after he had forwarded me a link to his post.
Majestic's letter says they learned about the meeting from local media blogs. She doesn't provide any more detail.