Hillsborough parents get their way

I know I'm stepping into a hornet's nest with this one, but what is it about this one little word ("merger") that sends parents in both school systems into such a tizzy?

After nearly two hours of grappling with its options, the school board for the Orange County Schools modified its enrollment plans for the district's only year-round elementary school Monday night.

In a 4-2 vote, the board approved changes recommended by district administration that will allow 30 students already at Hillsborough Elementary School to re-enroll there next year.

Some parents who had feared their children might be among those not allowed to return had dressed in orange shirts and spoken at board meetings, posted to a blog devoted to challenging the changes, and even hired an attorney to challenge the board.


Board member Liz Brown voted against modifying the plan because she felt it didn't do enough to help Central and Efland-Cheeks elementary schools retain middle-income students.

Al Hartkopf voted against the plan because he put forth a plan that would have allowed an additional 29 new students who applied to Hillsborough Elementary School to go there as well.

- newsobserver.com | More students can stay at Hillsborough school, 4/8/08

There is even a blog, Save Hillsborough Elementary School, that has been the focus of some very upset parents. So where's the blog to "save" the schools that aren't the best in the district?


taxes paid vs. benefit derived.

same as other costly expenditures.


Ruby,  what great questions.  I would like to add one more.

How come anytime this one little word ("merger") is brought up, Liz Brown is always involved?

Sorry, I don't follow the County School Board very closey so I don't understand what you're getting at. I thought merger was all Moses Carey's fault. ;-)

Merger is not a little word when you are the parent of an HES child that may have been forced out of year-round school. Most of us chose the school for the schedule. If you have been reading about the issue, you would know why we were against merger. We didn't want to loose our year-round school! And CES could not be forced to take on a year-round schedule if the two schools were merged.  Or, if you are in Ms. Liz's side, it would be because we are racist and elitist snobs. You choose.

HES parent

"So where's the blog to "save" the schools that aren't the best in the district?"

Exactly! HES is the "best" school in the district because of the parents. Parents that will take the time & make the effort to create a blog, attend board meetings, etc... usually are the ones who take the time & effort at home to help their kids learn.

It's not the best school anymore. It's definitely a good school. It's pretty much on par with the rest of the schools. Take a look at the scores.

But HES is the only year-round school in the district. That alone makes it the "best school" for many parents.

That is the very "elitist" attitude that everyone refers to. You have just insulted the parents of schools who may not be performing as well. Being the best school in the district is not just about test scores. But if it were, Cameron Park would be considered the best.

I think what the person above is referring to when he/she says it is the "best" school has more to do with the calendar - not the test scores.  Those parents that believe in year-round education have no other choice in the county, therefore, by default, HES is the only (and best?) choice for them.

There are many that attend HES that very much believe the calendar serves their children's needs in the best way.  I don't think that makes them elitist.  I think it makes them like everyone else who is just trying to do what they think is best for their kids.  Of course they have pride in their school - so do most other families in most other school districts.  What I see here is a group of parents being criticized for being pretty much like everyone else.  They are just easy targets. 

Does anyone remember how everyone else in the district acted when the redistrict debate occured four years ago?  No one wants their child moved from a school that they love away from their support groups - no matter what school they go to or what their income level is.

Why are CES test scores & HES scores so different? Better teachers? All students can achieve good test scores, it's not the students.

There are many factors involved in student achievement. I do believe that all students have the potential to test well. However, there is research to suggest that home environment, economic status, and school resources all play a role.

The School Board can affect the resources a school has (as can the Federal Government if a school reaches a certain level of sanctions per No Child Left Behind legislation (NCLB)). Government and School Boards have a harder time addressing issues in the home - study habits, availability of books, family factors... And there are no easy answers.

What we do know is that CES has a high percentage of low SES students and HES has a low percentage of low SES students (for the record - ECES also has a high percentage of low SES students).

What we do not know is HOW to fix the balance across Orange County Schools. And after a year of listening to the merger and rebalancing proposals, I'm still not closer to knowing how to fix this. I hope in the coming year that there will be more information and recommendations from the taskforce studying ways to close the gap in student achievement.

One thing we have to remember is that SES does not correlate directly with academic success. There are low SES students who perform wonderfully on tests, and there are non-low SES students who don't. So SES is just one piece of the pie.

One factor that I think works in the success of HES students on test scores is the involvement of parents in the school. HES students are there by choice - some of us because we believe strongly in the value of the year-round schedule, and others for the academic strengths of the school.

CES students improved their test scores last year in several areas. They have many dedicated teachers. Unfortunately, NCLB legislation defines passing as an all or none - so if any subcategory of students does not pass the test, the school fails.

I will stray from the question to state the I really detest the use of standardized testing to measure school progress. Especially in the ways it has been enacted in NC's ABCs of Education and NCLB. I totally support ensuring that all children have a strong education - but there has got to be a better way to do this. Focusing on reading and math to the detriment of other subjects is a problem as schools spend more of their limited resources on testing and test results versus elective learning activities.

But - I think if we knew the answer to WHY the scores between the schools are so different, we'd have a better way to design a solution.


What are some variables in education? 

 (1)  Quality of Teachers

 (2)  School Facilities

 (3)  Parental Guidance

 (4) Class room size

 (5) School Materials


Knowing the schools as well as I do, CES and HES are pretty much the same on (1), (2), and (5).  CES has the advantage on (4).  The only variable that no one can answer to is (3).  How would you gauge Parental Guidance?  I don't know.  I do know that many of these kids in low socioeconomic neighborhoods do not eat from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.  It's hard to learn on empty stomach.  I feel for these kids that go through this.  Did you know that some CES teachers load their students up with food so they will have something to eat on the weekend?  If you ask me, the CES teachers are heroes.


Why post, cavalierly dismiss HES parents (their unity and care about their children is a model every school district should aspire to) and then admit you know nothing about the issue to begin with?

I suspect that it's easy to be as dismissive as you, Ruby, when you don't have children yourself. At least you admit that you don't understand. Liz Brown never did.


It's like when men talk about abortion. How can they possibly know when they'll never have to go through it?

"It's like when men talk about abortion. How can they possibly know when they'll never have to go through it?"

You should ask that question to the people on the Save HES blog that try to comment on what they think is best for the Low-Socio-economic status familes."

As the creator, owner and moderator of the Save HES blog, I invite anyone to comment on whatever they like with regard to this issue.

I welcome people with different perspectives who seek to add to the discussion. Those who seek to irresponsibly throw bombs and spew profanity, I welcome them to either go somewhere else or stake out their own space on the Internet.

Save HES has been up for well over a year now, and it has always been a moderated blog. Just like Ruby does here, I decide which comments get published and which do not. If I feel a comment constructively adds to the discussion or reinforces the purpose of the blog, I happily put it up. If I do not, I don't.

As I stated on my blog months ago (http://savehes.blogspot.com/2008/02/chchchchanges.html):

"This is not now, never has been, and never will be, a free-for-all zone. Like almost any blog that allows reader comments, there are rules. And, I have sole authority to enforce those rules as I see fit.

If at any time you submit a comment that does not appear on my blog in a reasonable period of time, feel free to send me a message with your contact information, and I will respond with my reasoning behind rejecting your comment."

Interestingly, even though I have rejected many comments since posting that offer, not a single person has seen fit to question my decision. Without the ability to communicate with what are exclusively anonymous commenters, I can only assume they understand why their comments were inappropriate (I neither eat puppies nor am I Adolph Hitler), or they are too embarrassed by what they are willing to write anonymously to reveal their contact information to me.

If you do not fit into that last group, please feel free to comment at http://savehes.blogspot.com.

Allan Scott




The comments allowed on the Save HES Blog are skewed. That blog is a disgrace. Posters are allowed to hide behind a veil of anonymity and insult the children and families of the lower performing schools, the teachers, OCS staff, anyone that disagrees with their view and every school board member besides Hartkopf and Ann M. 

Now it is being used to promote Hartkopf's re-election bid. It's your blog and you are free to do as you choose, but it is far from impartial. For example,You all are pushing for Hartkopf and Jeff M. A few posters are saying that everyone who wants to stop HES from being shut down should support these two. On two occassions I posted a question asking for more details on the possibility of HES being shut down and you have not allowed that to be posted. I did not disagree. I just asked for more information.

And why would anyone in their right mind who disagrees with you, Hartkopf and the rest identify themselves, when most of your supporters do not? So you can trash their names too? I think not. And now that you all have tasted blood, I think that things are going to get even worse.

J. Schofield

First, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to anonymously submit comments to my blog in the recent past, and I am truly sorry you find it to be a "disgrace."

I fully accept your assertion that my blog is "far from impartial." I've heard this criticism before (perhaps from you), but I'm not sure what it is about a blog titled "Save Hillsborough Elementary School!" that would give the impression that it does not assert a given perspective. I make no secret of the fact that I hold a specific opinion on the matter and that my blog exists to communicate and further that opinion.

As for the specific anonymous comments you say I refused to post, I can only assume this is one, and the other is substantially the same:

"Now that this issue is closed, which I am glad of, what else is there to be concerned about? You mentioned something about stopping the HES from being closed down. Please explain. I just want to know how worried or not that I should be."

That is a perfectly reasonable comment and should have been published without delay. That is why it was - on April 8 at 1:05 pm. (https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=660899552983542904&postID=1591078885774516671). You can feel free to read the responses it received at the same link.

If that is not your comment, it is likely that yours were rejected because they were redundant given a previously submitted question.

Finally, you say my blog is now being used to promote the candidacy of Al Hartkopf and Jeff Michalski. While I do support both of those candidates, you fail to mention that I am also supporting Steve Halkiotis in the same race.

The reason I support these three candidates is simply that they are the only ones to have openly voiced support for year-round schools in Orange County, and for Hillsborough Elementary School in particular. Had any of the other three launched their campaigns with a similar statement of support, they would likely have my support as well.

Thanks again for commenting on my blog, and I look forward to seeing any more you choose to submit.

Allan Scott

(PS: I tried to re-register on OP, but never received my login info.)

Not sure what the problem is with your registration, Allan. I found your
account here: http://www.orangepolitics.org/user/allan-scott

It may be that the messages are going into your spam filter or a the wrong e-mail address. Please contact me if you can't log in and would like to change the address.

Thanks Ruby.

I found the email in my spam folder under about 1000 messages about "Colon Cleanse." I'm not sure I want to lose 20 lbs that badly.


I thought the point of a blog was to have an exchange of both views from many different perspectives on a specific topic. Well, I guess that I was wrong. So with that knowledge, I'll just stay clear of your blog. And yes, I forgot about that 3rd guy, Halkiotis. Lastly, I find it disgraceful because as the moderator, you allow some pretty insulting things to be posted. There is such a thing as respectfully disagreeing.

J. Schofield

The point of most blogs is to express the opinion of an individual or group of bloggers. As in the rest of life, there's no requirement to be impartial or to please other people.

On OrangePolitics I try very hard to be fair, but objectivity is not a goal. We've got opinions and we're here to tell you about them. I don't read SaveHES, partially because I don't care for the values I see expressed there, but that's their prerogative.  It couldn't be easier to start your own blog and write about how wrong they are if you like.

Thanks Ruby. My disdain was directed at the Save HES blog, not yours. I appreciate your feedback and I do have an appreciation for how you allow fair discussion. Sorry for the confusion.

The insults directed at you on that blog are a prime example of what I have been referring to (https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=660899552983542904&postID=958877025989279362).

An impartial view can be expressed without insults. I hope that the Save HES folks can learn that and make some changes for the betterment of the entire community.

J. Schofield

Please don't group all SaveHES bloggers together.  If you read through the blog you will see many examples of people who post in opposition to personal attacks.  There are nearly 400 families at HES - those few ignorant posts on the blog in no way represent the whole.

It's not fun being stereotyped for any reason at all.  Save HES has served its purpose many different ways.  It has kept people informed of the Board's decision, and it has served as a vehicle for people to voice their opposition.   In all actuality, there is little on the blog that I find offensive.  The few posts that are offensive do not add to the dialogue within the community.

I understand that the Save HES Blogspot has a purposel. But now Allan Scott is condemning Orange County School Board Candidate Eddie Eubanks regarding the fact that he is a month or so delinquent on a property tax for a vehicle. http://www.savehes.blogspot.com/

Scott goes on to say, "In light of the current debate over creating new taxing mechanisms to ensure Orange County has enough revenue to meet its needs and the ever present concern about meeting the funding needs of the county school system, the thought that a current candidate for the school board would neglect to pay his property taxes is unthinkable." 

I have replied to him and asked that if he's going to pass judgement, to do the same with Al Hartkopf who has been delinquent a few times himself while serving on the board and had some blocks as a result. Here's some examples:




I doubt that he will post what I've sent him, so I am posting here for others to see. I've been late a time or two myself and so has probably more than half of Orange County.

Art M.

I haven't checked this thread in a while, or I would have responded to this coment earlier.

Why does everyone assume that I won't post their comments on my blog? 

While I do control what is said to the degree I described above, I also routinely publish comments with which I disagree.

First, "J. Schofield" accused me of ignoring his/her questions only to have me link to where it had been posted (and responded to) well before the accusation.

Now "Art M." posts a comment here expressing doubt that I would post his "everybody does it" defense of a school board candidate who was "currently delinquent" on his property taxes.

In fact, I did post "Art M."'s comment on my blog within about 12 hours and that delay was only so I could write a lengthy (and, I feel, thoughtful) response to his criticism.

As a result of my publishing the original comment, the candidate publicly acknowledged his "oversight" in not paying his taxes and corrected it immediately.  As a result, it is no longer an issue, and Orange County has a few more dollars in its coffers.


"Why does everyone assume that I won't post their comments on my blog? "

I assume this because you rarely post my comments if they go contrary to your beliefs. Several times I have taken HES parents to task for their vicious personal attacks on the BOE, CES teachers, parents and especially children and you never post my thoughts.

I don't usually post anonymously on this blog but I am this time to avoid being the latest HES punching bag.

You did post my response, so please accept my apologies, and thank you. On another note, you were making a judgement call on Mr. Eubanks, while trying to excuse the other candidates' late payments by stating that they were not currently delinquent. When actually, if they were delinquent at any time, your logic should apply to them also. At some snapshot in time, Orange County was a few dollars short in its coffers as a result of their delinquency.

By the way, it does not look like two of your choices are fairing too well outside of Attention Orange: http://www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A256728

HES is only a subset of OCS, and turning off people outside of HES (and some within I imagine) is not helping your candidates at all. While you all have every right to voice your opinion the way you see fit, just remember that sometimes it is not what you do, but how you do it.

Art M.

I have been following the Orange County School Board for the last 15 months.  I have decided to vote for:

 Eddie Eubanks

Stan Morris

Al Hartkopf


I've met all 6 of the candidates, and each one has their own ideas.  I really like Eddie for his common sense, progressive approach.  I like Stan because he's a positive fellow that is willing to listen to everyone.  I voted for Al because he has a grounding effect on the Board, and he asks many intelligent questions to other members.  His style was very gruff, but he's toned it down quite a bit.


I refused to vote for Steve H. because he is too much a show boat that will clash with other members of the Board.  He always has to be right---period.  I felt that Jeff M. was too combative for the Board, and too inexperienced.  I thought that Tony McKnight was not qualified either.

 Jackie F.

I'm not really understanding this exchange.  None of the members of the school board are considered "low Socio-Economic Status" either.  So does that mean they are not qualified to come up with solutions?  Absolutely not.  For that matter, most officials in government do not fit the demographic of many of those they represent.  Does that mean that they could not possibly put forth effective policy?  I don't think so.

It is my opinion that the best solutions often come from collective effort - but that is just my opinion, for what its worth.

was caused by a lack of information on several levels.

1. The board initially announced the as a strategy to improve the performance of students at CES (yet they do not provide the same attention to students at ECES or other schools in the district). This was in March 2007.

They follow this up by not having DATA to back up why the merger will achieve this goal.

In the meantime, Judge Manning, in Wake County, rules that school boards cannot force children into a year-round schedule - thus setting a precedent for parents who have chosen NOT to enroll in a year-round school to protest (or even sue - as WakeCares did in 2007).

Now the board cannot force parents at Central to accept a year-round schedule. And the board does not overtly seek information from the parents as to WHY they do not want their children in year-round school. Numerous theories are floated, but I find it an insult to the parents at CES (and every other school in the district) that parents were NOT asked. During this time period, there was a survey distributed about school start times, so there is evidence that a survey can be done effectively.

2. Parents and teachers asked the school board members on more than one occassion to explain the mechanics of how the merger would work - especially once the plan morphed into a paired school model with K-2 in one building and 3-5 in another. The board was unable to provide basic information which might have reassured parents.

3. The stated goal (improved test scores) was morphed into balancing socio-economic status along the way. Again the board provides limited information on how balancing the schools would improve the ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE of all students. And the focus remains on CES/HES without attention being given to ECES and the remaining four elementary schools. A few limited articles are cited, and the same author comes up repeatedly. Unfortunately in the website upgrade, the minutes to the Andy Sachs sessions are no longer available - but I think this was where the discussion morphed.

4. Information was also used in a divisive manner from many camps. HES parents were referred to as elitist, and CES parents as apathetic (which is totally NOT the case), and once again ECES parents were left to wonder why their school was being overlooked. Plus one board member spent a great deal of spring 2007 suggesting that HES be closed altogether because it was a "school of entitlement" - whatever that means. And then the blame game started with HES being accused of damaging other schools by its mere existance (a brain drain, SES drain...). News articles, statements at board meetings, and the Save HES Blog provided fodder for more hostility among groups - some of which came out at the board meetings along the way.

Finally - in September - after approving their plan for a paired school in June (CES: K-2 & HES 3-5), the board went to the community for "listening sessions" so that they could answer questions (not so much as it turned out) as to how the merger/pairing would work. I attended the sessions at CES and at HES and was very impressed by the turnout at both schools.

Following those meetings, the board changed course. A task force was appointed. The task force soundly rejected the merger/paired school plan and proceeded to make some sound suggestions. Sadly many of these suggestions were ignored.

In December the Board decided on a plan for balancing SES at the schools which resulted in the possibility of students being denied return to their schools. Fortunately, the Orange County Schools staff took initiative to run numbers to see what modifying the parameters of the board's charge would be and ultimately students are allowed to stay at their school.


Change is hard. And the threatened changes without information scares people. The shame of this last year is that there were numerous creative proposals put on the table. A careful consideration of a merged/paired school might have resulted in some neat learning opportunities for the children of Orange County. However, the School Board dropped the ball, instead preferring to impose the plan on families.

I've spent the last year attending board meetings and retreats to get as much information first-hand as I could, as I soon learned from missing meetings that information is quickly missed. I have the luxury of a flexible schedule and a husband who was supportive of me attending the meetings (often coming home after 10 p.m.). I met parents from HES and from CES. Contrary to a school board member's contention on Monday night that CES parents were unseen and unheard - they were there, and they were listening, and they were speaking.

All of the children of Orange County deserve a quality education. A lot of time was wasted in the HES/CES debacle of the past year, and missed opportunities abound. CES is a school with a great deal of potential and a dedicated staff. Their test scores are rising. Children are learning. However, NCLB standards define it as a failing school - making it less desirable for families who have the means to look elsewhere. Magnet programs, and specialized curricula were dismissed as too expensive without there being an understanding of what the actual costs would be.

Personally, I think a priority of the upcoming board should be to examine how to make ALL the schools in Orange County attractive to families.

You asked where is the blog for the other side? I can't answer that. Nor is it my place to answer as I haven't asked the people who can. It is a good question. Personally, I would like to have seen more balanced discussion and less sniping in the SAVE HES blog - but by nature, blogs and information are controlled by the people who choose to participate.

I would love to see a county wide forum for parents from ALL our schools to discuss concerns about the schools, to form alliances, and to work for positive change and outcomes.

HES Parent of a rising 2nd Grade son.

I agree that we have more credibility when we own our words, and I apologize for not registering earlier. By the time I finished typing and editing the novel above, I didn't think about going ahead and registering.

Cheers, Kirsten
HES Parent of a rising 2nd Grade son.

Thank you Kirsten. :)
All of these anonymous commenters arguing with each other is weird. How are we to trust what is written so we can learn from you? Sign in and claim your comments please. At least create a pseudonym if you are concerned about your privacy. FYI - I try to say this to all anonymous commenters. It has nothing to do with the subject of the comments.

I was wondering the same thing. I knew this would provoke a reaction as Orange County parents are quite well-organized and outspoken in both school districts. I'm a little disappointed that none of these commenters are willing to spend the 2 minutes it takes to register and validate an e-mail address.

Of course it's OK with me as long as folks stay respectul and mature, but it does make me tend to take the comments less seriously.

Many of the postings on the SaveHES blog were/are placed anonymously because many parents, including myself, have feared retribution of some type from the school board.  I realize that this idea may puzzle some people, but when parents hear such vitriolic rhetoric like what has been tolerated at school board meetings from school board members, parents fear speaking out.  We don't want our comments to cause undue hardship on our children, but at the same time feel we have a right to express our disagreement with a policy (a fundamental idea to democracy).   For those of us who regularly attend board meetings and are engaged in this debate, we not only hear these comments by board members at school board meetings, but we hear from others in the community what school board members say away from meetings as well.  I'll be the first to say that I have on many occasions been embarrassed by what some HES parents have said on the blog and elsewhere- but HES does not hold the monopoly on close-minded parents - I've heard similar comments from parents of other schools whenever they feel attacked as well.  That is not an excuse for their behavior - but it should be noted that those with more level heads are in fact the majority.I wish I could say that it stops there - but it does not.  Some members of our school board publicly engage in hateful speech against HES parents - like calling them derogatory names and trying to draw comparisons between HES parents and Nazis or followers of the KKK.  Call me naive, but I personally expect better from our elected officials.  The idea that it is acceptable for them to personally attack parents who are simply exercising their right to express dissent threatens the basis of American political ideals.  Today's blogs are no different than yesterday's protests - they provide a valuable way for people to unite and our voices to be heard when we feel we have no other alternative.  At a recent board meeting, it was suggested by a board member that the board try to exercise its authority to shut down the SaveHES blog – simply because that board member disagreed with its content.  Wow... I'm not sure how healing can begin here so everyone can focus on what is the real issue - making all of our schools the best that they can be.  But I'm hoping that on May 6th, we can make a step in the right direction.


You are making some very strong accusations here and not only do you not reveal your own identity (you could be a political opponent on the Board, or one person posting many comments, for example), you also don't cite any verifiable facts to back up your claims. Why not link to a newspaper article or board minutes (are they available online?) and let the objectionable words speak for themselves? For all I know, I might agree with these unnamed board members.

This is exactly the type of comment I find to be not very credible, or at least not convincing personally. Of course others may not feel the same way.

that when the minutes come out for the most recent board meeting (April 7th) that under board member reports, they will include Ms. Brown's attempted diatribe - where she stated words to the effect of "if you don't like something an elected offical does - then just start a blog to intimidate people?"

At least the article in News of Orange (http://www.aconews.com/articles/2008/04/09/noc/news/news12.txt) describes the meeting as feisty - but the final blow up by Ms. Brown is described in this manner

"An outburst by Brown after the compromise plan was approved prompted Triebel to threaten to hold her in contempt as she lambasted the board for not sticking with its original plan."

Truely, some of the board meetings have been entertaining, or would have been if my child's education wasn't being toyed with.

As you know, blogs have become a means of gathering, sharing information, disseminating information, and organizing. A downside is that they can become a platform for people to snipe, take potshots, and make unfounded accusations.

I attended many Orange County School Board meetings over the last year. Serving on the board IS a thankless task, and generally not a road to winning popularity contests. Serving on the board in the age of the internet does mean that opinions may be more widely shared than they once were. Which can be good or bad.

As I previously stated in my earlier novel, I attended in order to get information first hand. At the April 7th meeting, references were indeed made to the Scopes Monkey Trial (as cited in the News of Orange article). The outburst at the end of the meeting was not acknowledged in the Daily Tar Heel or News & Observer coverage (I can no longer find the Herald Sun article online). There have been equally jaw dropping statements made and directed at HES parents throughout the last year. Generally by one board member.

I have been impressed with Mr. Trieble's leadership, especially this past Monday, as meetings are run in a more timely fashion and are staying more on task that they were last year.

One last note for this evening. I respect people's choice to post anonymously. However, I choose to at least use an alias (which I use for privacy purposes). While I've read the Save HES blog from its inception, I've not posted there as I don't care for the pot shots and insults allowed behind anonymity.


OK…so I understand your wanting more, specific details.  But please don’t miss the real point of my posting – that people often post anonymously because they fear retribution by a group or organization that has the power to do so.  I am merely speaking what is talked about in parent groups at HES – of course you would need to speak to many other HES parents to verify this – or read the SaveHES blog where this has been discussed many times over the past year.  The point is that initially the Board was very vague about how they would be “selecting” children for readmission, which left parents feeling very uneasy about speaking out publicly – this is why the group Attention Orange formed.  It was to give parents a way to organize and enact change collectively so no one person or small group of people bore the brunt of the Board’s backlash.


As far as the rest….this debate has been going on for more than 14 months.  Your request is like someone landing in the US for the first time and saying:  “so why do people not like George Bush?”  Oy…. 

Admittedly I am not following this particular situation and am generally ignorant of much of what has transpired.  Can I ask a couple of basic questions?  Just point me in the right direction to find some information about the following.

1. First of all,  where I research the impact on "same student" performance that occurs  when schools are re-balanced according to SES and other criteria? (not aggregate test scores, actual same student measurements over time).   Are there case studies out there that would help me understand the benefit side of this action?  I think the "cost" side has been well discussed in this and other forums.

    2. The second is more specific---if I am a parent who wants my child  in a year round school curriculum and my child is currently at a year round school,  does the school board  have any legal obligation to allow me to keep my kid in the year round school when they redistrict?   I know the fight in Wake County was about the legality of forcing kids into year round schools, but what about the legality of forcing me out of one?

 Thank you. 

1.) During the discussions, I tried googling a number of terms (today I used student achievement socioeconomic status). I do agree that SES is a predictor of student achievement. My issue with the Orange County School Board over the past year was the means by which they approached the problem, not the end-goal.

This article looks to be well done: Socioeconomic Status, Race, Gender, & Retention: Impact on Student Achievement - http://www.usca.edu/essays/vol72003/stockton.pdf

You might also find results from studies on the impact of bussing - which is generally an attempt to balance the SES status at schools.

There is a task force on "Closing the Gap" in Orange County Schools - I would guess that they have a literature review also.


2.) I don't know if they have a legal obligation to let your child stay in year-round school once enrolled in the face of redistricting. It was apparent when the parents of rising 1st and 2nd graders had to reapply to HES this spring, that there was not an obligation to let us stay through the 5th grade. The exception is the students who moved to HES under the NCLB sanctions imposed on CES & ECES - those students may stay at HES through the 5th grade and the board has limited options to move them.


My son was not in school during the previous re-districting so it didn't register with us when it happened - but I don't think that any children were moved from HES and back to their districted schools. I'm pretty sure I remember board members or central office staff talking about the redistricting process and how the counts were done to acknowledge which students were at HES and which were not.


Good questions!  I have not specifically seen articles that address “same student” impacts as you have requested.  But there is quite a bit of information out there on collaborative learning.  I will caution this:  earlier in the year the Board referred to several articles as a basis for their decisions.  Upon further examination, it was discovered that all of the articles were written by the same author and not published in peer-reviewed journals – which was an issue for many regarding their validity.  While I agree that collaborative learning is a piece of the puzzle, it is not the entire puzzle.  An educator explained it to me in these terms:


If a child should be performing at a level 10, but is performing at a level 5, collaborative learning may get him/her to a level 6, but it is still important to address what is necessary to take that child from level 6 to level 10.  The Board has not done so to date.


As far as the legal question, the answer is no, the Board does not legally have an obligation to keep students in a year-round school, although this has not been tested in court.  To quote Board attorney, Mike Parker in his letter to Attention Orange attorney, Jennifer Sanders:


“Our courts have long recognized the statutory authority of local boards of education to operate their schools and have deferred to the ‘full and complete’ and ‘final’ authority of those Boards to assign students.  Swann v. CharlotteMecklenburg Board of Education, 306  F.Supp. 1299 (W.D.N.C. 1969)”


According to Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1 (2007), it is illegal to district schools based upon race.  While there are many school systems that use SES as a method of balancing school districts, the method chosen by the Orange County Board of Education is virtually unheard of.  They required that parents complete applications for admission, including their income and education level and determined students' placement based on those criteria.  Wake County School Board also uses SES to balance their district, but they obtain this information through real estate tax values cross-referenced with addresses – information that is already public information.


The legal issue with this case is this:  can the school board selectively choose a small number of students (in this case it was 20 students out of over 7000 in the district) from a particular school in the district (one out of 7 elementary schools) and expel children based solely upon their parents’ income and education levels.  The parents involved in Attention Orange felt this was discriminatory as did the attorneys that represented them.  This case was never tested in court.  The most recent decision made by the school board meant that further legal action was not necessary.


 This issue is more than simply about HES kids and parents – it is about the authority of school boards to selectively choose and move students – something all parents should be concerned about.  This time the case involved this year-round school, but who knows in the future.  Currently there are about 150 students who are attending school based upon the district transfer policy, which means they are NOT attending their districted schools but have been approved by the Board to attend an alternate school.  (You can verify that number with the Orange County central office).   Who’s to say that this will remain the case in the future as the Board has specifically stated through their attorney that they have the right to move students as they see fit and students are not granted guarantees from one year to the next as to school placement.  Here’s another quote from attorney Mike Parker’s letter:


”The Board has given no ‘assurances’ of continued enrollment at HES or any other school within the district beyond the current school year.”


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