CMS board approves all student assignment recommendations

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte - Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board approved all 14 recommendations involving its student assignment plan. The school board held a nearly seven-hour meeting discussing and debating the plan Wednesday night.

About 70 people confronted the school board during a public hearing telling members to delay the vote, pass the vote, and one parent said "Shame on the Superintendent" for waiting until the last minute to change the plan and including families that weren't included in the initial plan.

Some speakers even threatened the board members that if they didn't table the vote, they would vote "No" on the proposed bond referendum in the fall.

Board member Thelma Byers-Bailey made a motion to delay the vote by two weeks. She told her colleagues it would give parents more time to understand the plan and embrace the changes.

Some schools were added to the change at the last minute. Parents say they didn't know about the change until 48 hours before the vote. That motion failed 5-4. Board chairperson Mary McCray, Ericka Ellis-Stewart, Dr. Ruby Jones, and Byers-Bailey voted for a delay while board members Eric Davis, Paul Bailey, Tom Tate, Rhonda Lennon, and Elyse Dashew voted against a delay.

Board chairperson Mary McCray defended her reasons for supporting a delay.  She feels the plan was rushed.

"I would rather the bonds fail if this passage depends on this board gambling on what amounts to - in my opinion - a plan that is not expressing that equity across all lines," CMS Board Chairperson Mary McCray said.

"For those who would say taking the small step at this time is better than doing nothing, I answer that doing nothing is better than doing the wrong thing."

The goal of the student assignment plan was to increase the socioeconomic diversity at some schools. The most controversial parts of the student assignment plan passed upsetting some parents. Some parents from Eastover Elementary left disappointed. The new plan has Eastover Elementary School students attending low-performing Sedgefield Middle School instead of successful Alexander Graham Middle School.

University Park Creative Arts parents left devastated. University Park is a well-loved magnet school. It will now become a partial magnet instead of a full magnet. Morehead STEM Academy parents left saddened. They claim CMS dismantled the program by transforming it to a partial magnet school.   The changes won't go into effect until the 2018-2019 school year.

CMS Superintendent Ann Clark said after the meeting the work now begins.  She will work will her staff to make sure the execution of the student assignment plan will be done correctly.

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