No Exit: Navigating the Wake School System

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Floods of families are pushing through Wake’s student assignment office this week as the school year begins, and many parents are feeling frustrated, suffering wait times extending beyond five hours.

Tuesday roughly 200 people crowded into the central office around 2 p.m. School officials and parents say Monday was even busier.

Many people reported seeing families leave when they couldn’t stand the wait.

Because Wake no longer offers a school assignment based on address, all families have to come to the central office in Cary to register.

The overwhelming majority of families in Wake’s central office were minority families.

Here are some of their stories.

Brothers Adrian (right) and Pedro Nicacio arrived at 8 a.m. to register Pedro for school. We interviewed them at 3 pm.


“At the beginning everything was fine but after a while people started getting frustrated and agitated and then people started to leave. Some people are just getting mad, frustrated. They’re just taking off. Hopefully we’re almost done.” -Adrian Nicacio


Lacole Linsey watches her daughter and another child play while she waits.


“It’s kind of irritating because the school is right next door to us and we had to come wait in Cary to do it, but it had to be done so … A lot of people have just been asking, ‘why are they calling people one-by-one?’ and ‘why’s everything so mixed up?’ I kind of figured with all these kids’ different ages and different grades, different schools… I already knew it was going to be a little hectic … As long as it takes, as long as I get her in school.” -Lacole Linsey


Mark Reynolds waits with his son Zack.


“It sucks. We went to the school, we’re on the school block and then they sent us down here to do all this. Last year, he was home schooled and now to try to get him re-enrolled again is crazy … There’s no organization to it.This is ridiculous.” –Mark Reynolds


Latosha Turner


“I came here at about 10 o’clock and what time is it now? — 3:10 and I’m just leaving. It was a long process just to enroll her in school but I understand that it’s a lot of people going through the same thing. A lot of people were upset and agitated. I just think it was too much of a process. We had to get a number and be called and then be called again and be seated somewhere and be called again and seated somewhere. I don’t know, but that’s how they work and I’m out of there now, so I’m good.” – Latosha Turner


Princessa Palmer came to central office on multiple days to enroll her children. Right is her son Anthony, already enrolled. She said all the schools on her proximity list are full so her son has been assigned to a school not on his choice list.


“This is my second visit. My first visit was three and a half hours. This is my second visit and it’s actually been quite brief because they’re unable to assist me with what I need to have done so he can go to school. They assigned him to a school that’s 40 minutes away from where we live, which I think is absolutely outrageous. It’s not a selective school that I would’ve chosen to send my child to. I moved down from Virginia and a school system that was very much more organized, with a much more defined and clear process. Education is just very important to me… Mom’s not happy with it… People are angry and upset, in general, because either their child is getting sent to a school that they don’t want or the wait time. It tells you on the website to prepare for two hours. It doesn’t tell you to prepare for four.” -Princessa Palmer

“I’ve got my iPod, so I’m just chillin’.” –Anthony Palmer


Barry Steward and Rasheda Holmes decided to smile for their picture because the ordeal was over.


“If you’ve got kids to pick up from daycare and you’ve got jobs or are working, I mean that’s horrible to have to drive all the way from Raleigh to come way our here to Cary just to register this child in school that lives across the street from the school. You’ve got to be kidding me. How are you going to have to take a whole day off of work just to register your child in school. That’s unbelievable. Then you’ve got to rush from here to go pick up kids from daycare. It shouldn’t be that difficult… People are trying to be patient because at the end of the day it is education and we all need education, so whatever it takes, that’s what we’re going to do. But I think at the end of the day it shouldn’t be this frustrating and so hard on us to register a student” –Barry Steward

“They need to have two offices. If they are going to have that many people and it’s going to take that many hours they should have two… That shouldn’t just have one in the whole county.” –Rasheda Holmes


David Arnette


“We got here about 45 minutes ago. It’s going OK, I guess. We didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t expect such a big crowd. We’re just moving into the area and need to get registered for school. We were more interested in the school choices and didn’t really think there would be this kind of wait until we talked to some friends in the area, earlier today and found out that might be an issue. Before then we didn’t really think about it. I don’t think any of the school in our area have seats available right now, so that’s been the biggest concern.” – David Arnette


Jian Huang said his experience transferring his child has not been difficult.


“They have instructions on where you should go for what. It was quite easy for me anyway. For me, I feel comfortable.” -Jian Huang


Veronica Davis waited four or five hours on Monday and then came back Tuesday. She drove nearly 40 miles from Wendell both days. She wonders why children can’t register at schools near their home and says it’s tough to take so much time out of the day.


“I was here yesterday, but I left. It was too crowded. It went faster today. It isn’t like it was yesterday. It was crazy yesterday. This is too much. They are wasting too much money doing this.” -Veronica Davis


Tacheka Perry

“I mean it was busy at first, but then it kind of slacked off a bit and they speeded up the process and got me in there and got it done. Any typical place where there is a lot of people, people are going to be agitated. But for me, it’s all about getting your kids what they need.” – Tacheka Perry

One thought on “No Exit: Navigating the Wake School System

  1. You should label the ones who just moved into town within the last couple of days. They’re the only ones who deserve any sympathy.