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Legislature grants Wayne County some relief

Update 4:20 p.m. Dec. 14: Wayne County sent out their response to the legislature’s action earlier today. Read their response here. 

The General Assembly today seemingly granted Wayne County Schools some relief in the ongoing saga over the Innovative School District’s (ISD) recommendation to include Carver Heights Elementary School in the ISD. 

Today, after going to a conference committee, the North Carolina Senate and House agreed to language on a provision that affects Carver Heights’ inclusion in the ISD. The school system’s attorney, Rich Schwartz, of the law firm Schwartz & Shaw P.L.L.C., sent out the following letter giving the news to administrators and school board members in Wayne County. 

This comes after the State Board of Education’s approval earlier this month of adding Carver Heights Elementary to the ISD with caveats that the plan currently being implemented by Wayne County be respected and with the expressed support of most of the Board members for Wayne County acting as the operator. 

Here is the letter in full:

Dear Wayne County Board Members and Administrators,

This afternoon the House and Senate approved a revised version of the Technical Corrections Act, Senate Bill 469 (S469), which includes provisions specific to Carver Heights Elementary School.  The engrossed version of the legislation is not yet available online, but here is a link to the bill in the form in which it passed the General Assembly:  A copy is also attached.

Specifically, Section 27 of S469 allows the Wayne County Board of Education to apply to the State Board of Education to adopt a restart model for the operation of Carver Heights Elementary School and repeals the requirement that the State Board of Education select at least two schools to transfer to the ISD no later than the 2019-2020 school year. 

As you know, the Wayne County Board of Education has already submitted its Restart Application for Carver Heights Elementary for the State Board to consider (State Board of Education Agenda Item – EICS7).  The Carver Heights Restart Application appeared as a Discussion item on the December 5-6, 2018, SBE meeting with a recommendation from staff to approve.  We expect the SBE will vote on the Restart Application at its meeting on January 9 and 10, 2019.

The Senate has sent S469 to the Governor by special messenger for his consideration.  A veto is not anticipated. 

More specifically, what this legislation does is allow the Wayne County Board of Education to apply for a restart application rather than close the school or transfer it to the ISD.  If the State Board of Education does not approve the restart application, then Carver Heights would be transferred to the ISD beginning with the 2019-20 school year.  If the State Board authorizes the restart model beginning with the 2019-20 school year and, at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year, the school still meets the definition of a “qualifying school” for consideration in the Innovative School District, the school would then be transferred to the ISD beginning with the 2021 – 2022 school year.  In effect, what this does is provide the school with a two-year window of opportunity as a restart school to improve the performance of the school to the point where it is no longer a “qualifying school.”  Provided that milestone is reached, then the school will not be transferred to the ISD.  This all assumes State Board of Education approval of the restart application, which is anticipated.

The bottom line is that, upon approval by the State Board of Education of the pending restart application, Carver Heights Elementary School will remain in the Wayne County Public Schools, operated by the Wayne County Board of Education, with no supervision by the Innovative School District.

Alex Granados

Alex Granados was the senior reporter for EducationNC from December 2014-March 2023.