"All voters, parents, teachers, students and anyone interested in improving Wake County schools should study this thorough, thoughtful and professional report," NAACP President Rev. William Barber said.And from the News-Observer, these details:
"It is a sad confirmation of our position, but what is sadder is the majority of the board continuing to fight against policies designed to provide every child a high-quality, constitutional, well-funded, diverse public education," he continued.
Planning without data
The review team criticized the board majority for changing Wake's school assignment plan, which used socioeconomic diversity to balance school populations, without support from what reviewers called relevant information on student achievement, graduation rates, length of bus routes and a positive parent satisfaction survey.
"There is no compelling data to support the rationale and reasoning stated by members of the Board for the change in policy," according to the report. "In fact, throughout the interview process, it became very evident that board members were shaping policy based on personal experiences rather than relying on objective data and evidence reflecting the system as a whole."
The report said that of the high school principals interviewed by the AdvancED, most said they believe "in the benefits of the prior Student Assignment Policy."
Amy Womble, a Wake parent and activist who has opposed the board majority's changes, said the findings about board members lacking a sound basis for ending the diversity policy were "huge."
"They have said they have their own data, and they have refused to acknowledge Wake County data showing the improvement in the achievement gap," Womble said.
The auditors pulled few punches in criticizing the board majority that took control on Dec. 1, 2009, following fall elections that swept four new Republican members into office.
"At the beginning of this meeting four new Board members (John Tedesco, Chris Malone, Debra Goldman and Deborah Prickett) were installed," the report said. "Once installed the four new Board members joined forces with current Board member, Ron Margiotta, to launch a premeditated act that resulted in destabilizing the school system and community."
Mark Elgart, president of AdvancED, gave Wake the second-harshest possible action. It's one step short of putting the district on probation.
"Accreditation warned" status means AdvancED, located in Georgia, found at least one serious issue that needs to be corrected within the next year to keep the accreditation.
Elgart said 10 percent of their 6,000 member school districts across the country share that status.