The school board in North Carolina’s capital city narrowly agreed Tuesday to roll back a policy that buses students to achieve diversity, following a tense meeting at which three people were arrested, others were forcibly removed and heated arguments echoed passions from an era past.
After dozens spoke at a hearing, the Wake County school board voted 5-4 to approve a new assignment policy aimed at placing students in schools near their homes.
The talk was angry, as terms like “segregation” peppered many arguments. A crowd of students sitting outside the doors of the meeting chanted so loudly that they briefly disrupted the hearing. Extra police officers were on hand to provide security.
Raleigh police said three men were charged with trespassing or resisting officers. One was released and two others remained jailed Tuesday night.
Reversing the diversity rules follows a cascade of similar shifts around the South, and particularly in North Carolina, which once was a model of desegregation.
The NAACP supported the long-standing policy that uses socio-economic background rather than race to assign students, and Barber continued to question the board’s plans during Tuesday’s meeting.
Bill Randall, a black congressional candidate, said the diversity program is not the root of problems among low-achieving students.