Religious and Family Freedom and the Wake County School Board

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I've been requested to be present for the committee hearing of House Bill 488 which would allow school boards in North Carolina the ability to delegate some of the responsibility for hearing reassignment appeals rather than being forced to hear them themselves.

In the Wake County School System, the reassignment of high school students for the 2006-07 school year caused thousands of appeals of which, the school board had to hear over 1,000 appeals. The North Carolina General Statute 115C-369 requires that person seeking reassignment is "entitled to a prompt and fair hearing". The issue is that when there are nine school board members and thousands of appeals, you get the kind of system that we were subjected to- two minute hearings.

Trying to explain why it is important to a family to have a student assigned to a school in two minutes is just not feasible. Simply saying hello and getting started takes around 15-30 seconds.

This means that issues such as physical disability or other quickly explained situations get a relatively fair hearing and psychological, emotional, or religious beliefs issues are forced into trite quips that simply don't do the circumstances justice.

If school boards are unable to find policies that meet the needs of more parents, as WCPSS claims, or allocate more personal time to the hearings, as WCPSS also claims, then it should be possible by law for them to delegate the appeal hearings to someone qualified to allow a better appeals process.

State law recognizes the school board appeals process as an administrative court of sorts. Appeals to their decisions go directly to the Wake County Superior Court, rather than to the District Court.

Since this is the case, a forced two-minute appeal for the well-being of their son or daughter is something no one should have to endure.




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