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Tata Out As Wake Schools Superintendent

Tony Tata
Wake County Schools

The Wake County School Board is looking for a new superintendent. The board's Democratic majority fired Tony Tata yesterday after less than two years on the job. They said little about their reasons. But Republicans blame partisan politics.

Gurnal Scott: A precariously-placed hammer over the head of Wake County Schools Superintendent Tony Tata..finally dropped.

Kevin Hill: At this time I look for a motion from the board to approve the separation agreement between the board and Mr. Tata.

Translation -- Tata was fired. The former Army Brigadier General endured rumors of his dismissal for nearly a year. Tata’s days appeared to be numbered when Democrats took over the board's majority last November. Republican members that had been in control of the board prior to that election drove the process to hire him. It should be noted that school board elections in Wake County are non-partisan. That didn't stop this firing from playing out along party lines with a 5-to-4 vote.

John Tedesco: I think this is the wrong thing to the wrong time...for the wrong reasons and will send the wrong message across our entire district and will have lasting implications.

John Tedesco is one of four Republicans who who believe Tata's dismissal is without cause..but they were outvoted at every opportunity to save his job.

Debra Goldman: Superintendent Tata was exactly what Wake County needed and still needs.

Debra Goldman is another of the Republican minority that backed Tata. She says his military background showed in the way he wanted to work with everyone.

Goldman: Whether kneeling down to speak softly to a young student of bringing in facilitators to talk with an often dysfunctional board. Now, a partisan board majority is choosing to dismantle our school system to remove him from the Wake County schools. Why?

The five Democrats who voted for Tata's firing insist the move was not personal or partisan. Kevin Hill is the board chairman. He declined to discuss the majority's reasoning citing employee confidentiality. But he said it's a sad day for Wake County

Kevin Hill: But nothing has changed about our commitment to students..and I dare say that every member at this table would agree with that.

Some parents aren't so sure. A half hour after his firing, Tata delivered a farewell statement to a group of supporters.

Tony Tata: Thank you. Thank you very much.

 He ticked off the accomplishments of his 20 months.

Tata: Producing two student assignment plans focused on increasing stability and proximity. Vastly improving services for our 20-thousand special education students. And implementing the new common core curriculum in 169 schools. These are just a few of the accomplishments of the Wake County Public Schools team..and we have so much more to do..and so much more that I wanted to do.

He parted with a thank you to all the district employees..his army of educators..for following his lead if even for a short while. He said goodbye as a military man would

Tata: It has been my distinct honor and privilege to serve with you. Thank you very much.

Tata gets a year's salary -- just under 254 thousand dollars -- to walk away. The district moves on with Dr. Stephen Gainey, an assistant superintendent, as interim superintendent for the next 60 days.

Gurnal Scott joined North Carolina Public Radio in March 2012 after several stops in radio and television. After graduating from the College of Charleston in his South Carolina hometown, he began his career in radio there. He started as a sports reporter at News/Talk Radio WTMA and won five Sportscaster of the Year awards. In 1997, Gurnal moved on to television as general assignment reporter and weekend anchor for WCSC-TV in Charleston. He anchored the market's top-rated weekend newscasts until leaving Charleston for Memphis, TN in 2002. Gurnal worked at WPTY-TV for two years before returning to his roots in radio. He joined the staff of Memphis' NewsRadio 600 WREC in 2004 eventually rising to News Director. In 2006, Raleigh news radio station WPTF came calling and he became the station's chief correspondent. Gurnal’s reporting has been honored by the South Carolina Broadcasters Association, the North Carolina Associated Press, and the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas.
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