Wake County school board members voted Tuesday 5-4 along party lines to fire Superintendent Tony Tata.
Tata served less than two years of a four-year term as Wake County superintendent. He was hired into a confused and highly politicized atmosphere and will leave the school board in a similar situation.
[media-credit name="Photo courtesy of WCPSS" align="alignright" width="255"][/media-credit]Because the Democrat-led board voted to fire Tata before his contract is up, the system will pay more than $250,000 in severance pay.
The technically non-partisan school board has in three years gone from being controlled by the Democrats, to the Republicans, and back again to Democrats. School board members are debating the third student assignment plan in three years and will now be faced with hiring the third superintendent in as many years.
Tata joined the school system in 2010. Republicans, led by Ron Margiotta and John Tedesco, had taken control of the school board. Conservatives on the board pushed a neighborhood schools plan to replace a policy based on creating economic diversity in Wake schools. The former superintendent resigned.
The then-majority charged Tata with creating a plan, and the board did pass one, weighing proximity to schools more than diversity. The new plan prompted calls of discrimination. People were arrested during school board meetings for protesting the proposal and the North Carolina NAACP asked federal authorities to investigate the school board.
But in 2011, the majority switched again and Democrats regained board control, promising to dismantle the neighborhood schools plan. Since late last year, there have been more protests, this time from the conservatives, more calls for investigations and the partisan divide has remained sharp.
The Wake County school board is now faced with having no leadership in the superintendent’s seat as it prepares to once again dismantle and rebuild an assignment policy.