N.C. Educator To Leave Post
Raleigh, N.C.--Walter L. Marks, superintendent of the 55,000-student Wake County public-school system, resigned late last month following the discovery by the Wake Board of Education that he was one of nine district administrators charged by the state with misspending almost $490,000 in federal Chapter 1 funds during the past two school years.
Mr. Marks's resignation became publicly known on Aug. 22 after the school board ended its fifth closed-door session since Aug. 13, having voted unanimously to accept Mr. Marks's resignation almost three years to the day after he became superintendent.
In a statement released after the meeting, the board noted that Mr. Marks had submitted his resignation "entirely on his own and without any request from the board of education."
"After exhaustive reviews, the board has concluded that Mr. Marks's direct involvement in and knowledge of the problem with the Chapter 1 program were minimal," said Mary Gentry, chairman of the school board.
"The board would not consider [Mr. Marks's] involvement significant enough to justify his dismissal, particularly considering his past contributions to the school system," Ms. Gentry said.
Accepting the Resignation
"The board is accepting the superintendent's resignation for the good of the system because both the board and Mr. Marks believe that, under the adverse conditions currently facing the school system, he can no longer be as effective in his position as both he and the board would desire."
"These have been very rough days for some of my staff, the board of education, and my family," Mr. Marks wrote in a statement to the board that was also released after the board meeting. "I hope you and the citizens of our county will take what we have done and support it, improve it, and understand that I have tried to give my all to make Wake County the very best school system for you and the youth we serve."
The board voted during the same meeting to appoint Robert E. Bridges, the district's current deputy superintendent, to serve as acting school superintendent until June 30, 1985, when Mr. Marks's contract was scheduled to expire.
Investigations by both the state and the school board concluded that Mr. Bridges was one of the administrators involved in the misuse of the Chapter 1 funds. Although several board members have said they think all nine educators should be investigated more closely, no action on that proposal has yet been taken.
The Chapter 1 controversy came to the public's attention in May when a local newspaper reported assertions by Deborah A. Pearce, the former assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and JoAnne S. Drane, Wake County's director of compensatory education, that there were problems with the administration of the program, which serves the special needs of disadvantaged students. (See Education Week, Aug. 29, 1984.)
Reports by the State Department of Public Education and by the school board's lawyers confirmed allegations made by Ms. Pearce and Ms. Drane that during the 1982-83 and 1983-84 school years, 34 teachers were paid with Chapter 1 money when they should have been paid with local funds.