Sorry. I couldn't resist.
JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargen's NC Successor Out
First there was this from Education Week:
The Wake County, N.C., school board voted last week to dismiss Superintendent Anthony J. Tata, the latest flare-up in a long-running controversy involving a district that is nationally known for its bold school integration plans.
Mr. Tata, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general, has led the 150,000-student district since January 2011. The 5-4 decision to fire him leaves the district without a permanent leader as it confronts instructional shifts, rapid population growth, and yet another anticipated shift in its closely watched integration efforts. But observers said the board's action also has implications for the national conversation about student-assignment and integration plans and the role of partisan politics in school boards.
I just stumbled across some of my old vetting notes on Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens, before she got the JCPS job. They add some perspective on why her successor was fired today and reminded me of Donna Hargen's journey to The Ville. [Note to readers: These are Draft Notes from NC newspaper accounts; sketch only; not fully vetted or cited.]As Chief Academic Officer in Wake County NC, current JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens ran a zero tolerance disciplinary program that was objected to by the NAACP for the suspension of more than 1000 students-disproportionately minority. Most districts had abandoned zero tolerance programs much earlier.Later as Wake County Interim Superintendent, Hargens came under some fire when she approved a school transfer for a board member's daughter. That met with objections from her Board which passed a new policy requiring full Board approval of transfers. Apparently of 143,000 Wake Co students only 15 transfers were approved under a "best interest" policy which required no paperwork and is suspicious for favoritism.
Wake County spent some amount of time under investigation by the US Department of Education office for Civil Rights violations. Complaint alleges discrimination against high school girls in interscholastic sports.North Carolina has non-partisan board elections (but not really) for 9 seats.… Lots of 5-4 votes. Wake County's conservative majority school board which dismantled the districts economically-based diversity assignment policy in favor of a neighborhood plan, selected Fox News Commentator Anthony Tata on a 4-2 vote, Democratic board members voting against-praised Hargens.
Secrecy surrounded the Superintendent's search. It is unclear whether Hargens was a candidate for the permanent position. "The public" reportedly wanted a superintendent from outside Wake County. Tata kept Interim Superintendent Hargens. Hargens had been serving, on a rare unanimous vote, since the prior superintendent had resigned in protest. Vice chair calls Hargens "a true professional" saying she doesn't know what Hargens views are on the districts diversity assignment policy.Hargens recommended the use of RTTT funds for recruitment bonuses, merit pay, and additional technology for Wake County.Hargens was an unsuccessful candidate for superintendent in New Hanover County in August 2010.Star News editorial calls Hargens “competent administrator” but says New Hanover board should choose a leader.
News and Observer reports that Hargens dodges the issue of whether neighborhood schools will lead to resegregation. Hargens seems to argue that she will do whatever the board says calling it a "governance issue."
This from Education Week:New Hanover Board Chair says "we know she's an excellent administrator… She sees the position of superintendent is to carry out the will of the School Board. Right now, that will of the Board is neighborhood schools."
Early last year, the Wake County school board, with the support of a newly elected bloc of Republican-backed members, did away with a school assignment policy that tried to promote socioeconomic diversity among all the schools in the 143,000-student system.
Since that time, the struggle has been how to create a new policy that will maintain stability but also avoid creating schools with that are predominantly poor. Both sides have been able to wield statistics as weapons as they argue their points, but a group of articles that ran recently in the Raleigh News & Observer show that results of the diversity policy have been mixed...
A new plan put forward by the city's business community would allow for more pupil stability but also permit the district to take socioeconomics into account in some school assignments. The plan has received early support; it'll be interesting to see if it can bring an end to what has been months of rancorous debate.