NC Media Outlets Ledes on Recent #HB2 Ruling Mislead Citizens

Media ActivismHere’s a challenge for the reader: Name a news outlet in North Carolina (and beyond) that didn’t have a misleading lede on the recent House Bill 2 (HB2) ruling by Judge Schroeder.

I saw about ten headlines on Friday after Judge Schroeder’s ruling that implied that HB2’s facility privacy section had been blocked statewide.

A few examples include, UNC blocked from enforcing HB2 for transgender plaintiffs (News and Observer), Federal judge says UNC can’t enforce North Carolina’s transgender bathroom restrictions (Washington Post), A Federal Judge’s Ruling Against North Carolina’s HB2 (The Atlantic).

Once you hit the article or read the actual ruling, you realized Schroeder blocked that part of HB2 for the three plaintiffs and it applies to the UNC system only.  In other words this is a very specific injunction where the UNC system can’t enforce this portion of HB2 on the plaintiffs.

UNC to date has been resistant to accepting HB2 and officials from the UNC system have made statements in the past indicating they would not enforce the law.  This ruling is contrary to the ruling by a Texas Federal Judge, which blocked the Obama administrations bathroom directive.

From the ruling:

Accordingly, the court will enjoin UNC from enforcing Part I against the individual transgender Plaintiffs until the court reaches a final decision on the merits in this case. Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing they are likely to succeed on their Equal Protection claim, and the court will reserve ruling on their Due Process claims pending additional briefing from the parties.

It is important to emphasize that this injunction returns the parties to the status quo ante as it existed in Title IX facilities prior to Part I’s passage in March 2016. On the current record, there is no reason to believe that a return to the status quo ante pending a trial on the merits will compromise the important State interests asserted.

In the late Friday ruling by Schroeder, A Bush appointee, he wrote that the challengers “are likely to succeed” using the argument that HB2 violates Title IX. That makes no sense unless you consider what closely what Schroeder wrote:

It is important to emphasize that this injunction returns the parties to the status quo ante as it existed in Title IX facilities prior to Part I’s passage in March 2016

Schroeder seems to be aligning with the dissenting opinion of the Gavin Grimm v Gloucester case which was written by the 4th Circuit’s Judge Neimeyer.

Neimeyer made it clear in his dissent that Title IX is not ambiguous: “Title IX and its implementing regulations are not ambiguous. In recognition of physiological privacy and safety concerns, they allow schools to provide “separate living facilities for the different sexes,” 20 U.S.C. § 1686, provided that the facilities are “proportionate” and “comparable,” 34 C.F.R. § 106.32(b), and to provide “separate toilet, locker room, and shower facilities on the basis of sex,” again provided that the facilities are “comparable,” 34 C.F.R. § 106.33.”

The Supreme Court of the United States recently overturned part of the 4th Circuit’s order in Grimm v. Gloucester. The Supreme Court sided with the school district and issued an order putting a previously granted injunction by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals on hold for the time being.

The Governor’s office issued the following statement:

“The Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act is still in effect,” said General Counsel Bob Stephens. “The judge’s limited injunction only applies to three individuals and is based on a Fourth Circuit decision recently stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court. This is not a final resolution of this case, and the governor will continue to defend North Carolina law.”

Tami Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the NC Values Coalition also issued a statement:

“Judge Schroeder has made a very narrow ruling by suspending enforcement of HB2’s bathroom provisions only for the three UNC transgender student and faculty plaintiffs. HB2 remains in effect for all others at UNC and across the state. Since UNC has refused to enforce HB2, the ruling has little effect. The Judge based his decision on the Fourth Circuit’s misguided reliance on the Obama Education Department’s interpretation of Title IX, not on the Constitution. This decision is at odds with a Texas judge’s ruling earlier in the week that enjoined nationwide the Obama Administration’s mandate forcing public schools to allow boys into girls’ bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. It is a shame that Attorney General Roy Cooper has failed to do his job and defend the State’s common sense law that protects the privacy and safety of both boys and girls alike.”

The case will resume in October.

Posted in LadyLiberty1885, LGBT, Media Bias, NCGA, Random Musings, You Will Be Made To Care | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

NC Dept. Of Public Instruction Touts 4th Year of Powerschool, Ignores Failings

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction sent out a  press release yesterday, hailing the success of Powerschool, which captures student data and information statewide.

The press release listed impressive numbers of parent log-ins as a way of making it seem that the product was really making a difference.

It’s catching on. In a single week this spring, more than 450,000 parents and students accessed the secure parent and student portals in PowerSchool, giving districts yet another approach to help strengthen parent engagement, a critical factor for student achievement.

“By using PowerSchool’s parent portal, we can connect parents to key data about their students’ schoolwork. This frees parents and teachers to spend their conference time discussing strategies to help students improve,” said State Superintendent June Atkinson.

What the release doesn’t say is that Powerschool is the only portal for parents.  So of course large numbers of parents are logging on?

The press release also didn’t mention Powerschool’s failings.

These failings include a $7 million dollar maintenance rate, hundreds of ‘slow connectivity incidents’, missing deliverables and suspect payments to ‘contractors’.

Back in June, this site reported on a letter obtained that was sent by the HomeBase Leadership team to the NC Department of Public Instruction Leadership and PowerSchool team. The letter revealed that Powerschool was still rife with problems.

Excerpt from the June report:

Accompanying the letter was a spreadsheet with 286 incidents spanning 10 weeks, starting at the end of March and running through the beginning of June. The vast majority (around 90%) of these incidents involved ‘slow connectivity’, ‘loss of functionality’ and ‘down/unavailable’.

Under “Quality Assurance”, complaints included:

  • “Broken items are consistently placed in QA for re-test without being thoroughly vetted or unit tested.”
  • “Urgent and prioritized defects and issues are frequently not addressed within a reasonable timeframe. High priority items often sit for days, sometimes weeks, without tangible results, or progress updates.”
  • “PowerSchool is inconsistent in following industry standard procedures for Quality Assurance.

Of note, under the bullet point, “Transition from In-House Project Support to Operational Support”, was this gem (emphasis added to the second half):

There has been a lot of discussion about this subject and we want to put it to bed. We were given a list of tasks that Greg Parish used to perform while he was based at NCDPI. The majority of these tasks require technical level access to servers that NCDPI has no access to, or require contacting various people within different
teams of PowerSchool, in order to coordinate support activities. We provided a specific response to Dan Gwaltney with the proposed transition steps on the few items that can be transitioned to NCDPI. As a response we received an SOW and a bill for Lorenzo’s services for $105,000. The SOW was actually a template written for your customers that host locally. It just seemed like a document put together with little effort in order to attach a bill to it. We have a contract with PowerSchool that costs more than $7 million per year for maintenance, support and
hosting operations; a turn-key solution. We expect that this is sufficient payment and find it absurd that PowerSchool wants to charge North Carolina extra money for work performed by specific members of your staff.

The letter also notes that the project is missing close-out items, yet NC DPIannounced in 2013 that the project was completed.

Using DPI’s 450,000 parent log in number and at a maintenance rate of $7 million, that’s just over $15 a log in.

Read the whole June Report: PowerSchool Update Letter Packed with Bombshells
Read the June 9th Letter.

Posted in EXCLUSIVE, June Atkinson, LadyLiberty1885, NC DPI | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wake School Board Race Will Use 2011 Maps; 4 Incumbents Run Unopposed

As previously reported, the 4th Circuit threw out Wake county’s voting maps this past July, even though the maps had survived two prior legal challenges. This sent Wake county election officials and legislators scrambling to find a remedy.

The 4th Circuit ruling had implied that perhaps no elections should be held in Wake county this November,  stating that, “We see no reason why the November 2016 elections should proceed under the unconstitutional plans we strike down today.”

2011 maps versus the redistricted maps:

This move sent election officials and legislators scrambling to salvage the November election. It also meant many candidates were now out of a race and refiling would be required.

The matter was taken up by Federal Court Judge James Dever III, who had been the judge who originally upheld the constitutionality of the Wake maps. Dever re-opened the filing for the Wake school board race on August 9th.

In August, Judge James Dever III ruled that the 2011 maps would have to be used for the 2016 election, however this was an ‘interim’ remedy.   Dever’s order leaves room for legislators to take another whack at redistricting when they return to the General Assembly.

As a result of Dever’s ruling, all nine school board seats will be on the ballot in November, however now four are running unopposed.  Each of those elected will serve two-year terms and this election is by plurality, meaning there will be no run-off races.

By the 2011 districts being used this November, here are the candidates. An asterisk denotes incumbent.

District 1: Donald Agee, Mary Beth Ainsworth, Tom Benton*, Sheila W. Ellis
District 2: Peter Hochstaetter, Mark A. Ivey, Monika Johnson-Hostler*
District 3: Roxie Cash
District 4: Heather Elliott, Keith Sutton*
District 5: Jim Martin*
District 6: Christine Kushner*
District 7: Zora S. Felton*
District 8: Gary Lewis, Lindsay Mahaffey, Gil Pagan
District 9: Bill Fletcher*, Michael Tanbusch

Most of the current members have filed to run again, save Susan Evans and Kevin Hill. Evans is challenging Tamara Barringer for her NC General Assembly senate seat.

An example of the chaos caused by shifting back to the 2011 maps is evident in current District 1 and 2 races. Under the new maps, Sheila Ellis would have been going up against Monika Johnson-Hostler. Ellis now is running in District 1.  The situation is confusing, at best.

Johnson-Hostler’s personal financial dealings and ” five-figure credit card debt” were highlighted in the 2013 race. This website took notice when Johnson-Hostler was cited defending Common Core in 2014.

The two candidates now challenging Johnson-Hostler in District 2 are both Republicans.  Peter Hochstaetter was originally running in District 7 alongside Gary Lewis, who had now been pushed into District 8.

An article in the News and Observer stated that, “Hochstaetter, 35, is a corporate trainer who says he’s “a proponent of neighborhood schools and restoring power and decision-making authority to parents and local families.”  This is backed up by Hochstaetter’s LinkedIn profile.

Hochstaetter doesn’t appear to have a campaign website, but he does have a rather inactive Facebook page. Sources tell me Hochstaetter’s children possibly attend a private school.

The other contender is Mark Ivey, who does have a campaign website. The site is rather inactive but does have a bio page. Ivey also has a Facebook presence, which is much more active and shows a concentration on Vocational and Career and Technical Education (CTE).

Districts 1, 2 and 8 have a chance to make a slight difference if they oust the incumbents. Given that 7 of the 9 current  members are running it is unlikely any real changes can be made to the way the Wake board operates.

Citizens unsure of who is running in their school board districts should use the North Carolina State Board of Elections ‘voter look up‘ tool.  Once they have looked up their voter record, they can click on the ‘sample ballot’ to view their options.

Posted in 2016, Elections, LadyLiberty1885, Legal Related, The Articles, Voting, Wake County School Board | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment