District Dossier

N.C. Parents Sue Over Calendar

Move to year-round schools lands in court.

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A dispute over plans to use year-round schooling to ease student overcrowding in Wake County, N.C., has boiled over into the courts.

With a hearing scheduled for April 18 in Wake County Superior Court, a group of parents is seeking an injunction to keep the 128,000-student district from converting 22 schools from traditional to year-round calendars by next fall.

District leaders say the system’s exploding enrollment necessitates the conversion, but the parents argue that there are other solutions, and that the calendar change will be disruptive to families. (Five new schools also are to be opened as year-round buildings.)

Dawn Graff, a co-founder of the group behind the legal challenge, Wake CARES, said families with both younger and older children could face multiple schedules because only three of the schools to be converted are middle schools, and none is a high school.

“The parents opposing the year-round calendar are saying they would rather have their kids go to school in trailers than go to year-round calendars,” Ms. Graff said. Parents also are concerned about the change’s effect on summer activities and child-care needs, she added.

District leaders say they have little choice. The system is growing by several thousand students a year. Schools that are open year round can handle more students by grouping them into tracks with staggered schedules.

Ann Majestic, the lawyer representing the district in the case, said it can’t afford to accommodate the additional students otherwise. She noted parents with children at schools slated for conversion were given the option of sending their children to schools with traditional calendars.

“Without that conversion, and without opening schools with year-round calendars, the school district will be thousands of seats short,” she said. The district plans to file a motion to dismiss the group’s claim, she said.

The lawsuit follows a showdown on the issue between the district school board and the Wake County Commission. County commissioners, who approve the school system’s budget, nixed district spending plans to pay for the conversions. In response, the district said it would dip into its financial reserves to cover the cost.

See Also
See other stories on education issues in North Carolina. See data on North Carolina's public school system.
For background, previous stories, and Web links, see Year-Round Schooling.

Vol. 26, Issue 31, Page 5

Published in Print: April 4, 2007, as N.C. Parents Sue Over Calendar

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