The candidate filing for the Wake County School Board races closed on July 6 with no challenger filing for four out of the nine district seats. So, who filed and where?
Districts one, two, seven, eight, and nine all received challengers, while three through six did not, leaving the incumbent running unopposed. In district two and nine, there is more than one challenger for the seat.
To view which schools fall under which district, visit the WCPSS Board Member page.
Each candidate and their campaign site is listed below along with some historical and campaign context. Voters should look at the bios of the candidates are on their campaign sites as well as check out their social media, which at times, can be highly illuminating.
This list will be updated as websites are created and more candidate information becomes available, so please check back.
Incumbent: Heather Scott
Website: Heather For Wake
Scott was elected to the board in 2018 after defeating Donald Mial and Jim Thompson in the general election that year. She is was a school teacher in a charter school when she first moved to Raleigh which is ironic as she has gone along with the rest of the WCPSS board lobbing attacks at charter schools and school choice families.
Challenger: Deborah Prickett
Pricket is a former WCPSS board member for District 7 first elected in 2009. She ran again in 2013 and lost to retired teacher Zora Felton. Felton ran for a second term unopposed and was reelected but died suddenly on November 16, 2016, at the age of 65.
If you’re a parent concerned about the impending “socioeconomic index” reassignment plan or the increasing opaque, totalitarian nature of the board, and its activities, Prickett is known for wanting more transparency and for her cool-headedness during past reassignment fights.
Prickett, some may recall, was also the only one standing up to former board member Susan Evans during the heated reassignment debates in 2012. At one such board meeting, Prickett tried to address upset parents only to have Evans literally yank the microphone out of Prickett’s hand in an attempt to silence her.
Incumbent: Monika Johnson-Hostler
Website(s): MonikaForSchools, MonicaForCongress
Johnson-Hostler was first elected in 2013 after beating Matt Scruggs by only 734 votes. During her first campaign in 2013, it was revealed Johnson-Hostler had serious credit and debt issues. She was re-elected in 2016 after defeating Pete Hochstaetter and Mark Ivey. She ran unopposed in 2018 and ran for U.S. House North Carolina District 2, losing in the Democratic primary field of four candidates. Deborah Ross came in first by a wide margin with 70% of the vote. Johnson-Hostler was the next closest, with 22% of the vote.
Challenger 1: Gregory Hahn
Hahn has not run for school board before, lives in Fuquay-Varina, and is the father of four boys, all of whom were public school students. On his site, which is minimalist at the moment, he says that “we need more transparency in Wake County School District.”
Challenger 2: Dorian Hamilton (Stephenson)
Hamilton is a first-time candidate for Wake County School Board. Her website says she moved here 18 years ago from Long Island, NY. She is married with three children and runs Invictus artz, and is a managing broker at Realtors at Powerhouse realty/ Carolina Max. Items in her platform that stuck out were her buy-in of pseudo-science Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) concepts like “Whole child investment: socio-emotional services,” “Common Core ‘Career and College Readiness’ and her mention of districts as community hubs that should have “culturally competent schools.”
Incumbent: Chris Heagarty
Heagarty was appointed to the District 7 seat on December 11, 2018. The appointment happened after 68-year-old Kathy Hartenstine died after a brief illness on Sept. 24 of that year. Hartenstine had filled the seat once held by Zora Felton who died in November 2016. Before running for school board, Heagarty, a Democrat, was the House Representative for District 41 from 2009 to 2011 at the N.C. General Assembly.
Challenger: Rachel Mills
Mills is a mom of two public school kids and is pro-school choice “Even within the school,” and she says that “you should have choices in what educational model and class works best for your student. One size does not fit all.”
Incumbent: Lindsay Mahaffey
Mahaffey is a ‘former educator’ who first ran and was elected in 2016 after beating Gil Pagan and Gary Lewis. She was reelected in 2018 after defeating Bob Malone and John Crowe. Her website does not go into detail about what she taught, where she taught, or for how long. On her site, she also says that there “is a great disconnect between education policy and what goes on in the classroom.” And what has she done to close that gap?
Full disclosure: Mahaffey is my district representative. She represents herself, not the families in her district. Mahaffey has literally done nothing to alleviate overcrowding in Southern Wake and has never stood up for the families who have been repeatedly shuffled around as a result of reassignment plans she and the board created. Notably, she has been openly hostile towards charter schools and school choice.
Challenger: Steve Bergstrom
Bergstrom is a U.S. Airforce veteran and father of four children, all of whom attend public school. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and a Master’s Degree in Political Science. According to his site, he’s “managed $36 billion in contracts for the Department of Defense. Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and others.” One of his children was one of the thousands of kids in the district negatively impacted by MVP Math. Bergstrom believes parents have a right to know what is going on in their child’s classroom. He wants greater transparency with textbooks, materials and course offerings in the district so that parents can see what their children are using.
Incumbent: Bill Fletcher
Despite being on the board since 2013 after defeating Nancy Caggia, Fletcher still has no working campaign website and uses Facebook for most of his campaign announcements. He ran unopposed in 2018, won in 2016 against Michael Tanbusch. Notably, Fletcher has recently come under fire for using his board position to promote his real estate job during virtual meetings. This abuse of power was also called out in 2018 when Fletcher used stationery from his board position to send Christmas cards promoting his real estate job. During the hotly contested school reassignments that also took place in 2018, Fletcher was accused by parents of personally benefitting from those plans and for failing to recuse himself.
Challenger 1: Karen Carter
Carter, a Wake County native, is a social worker, a former substitute and Kindergarten teacher who has “over 17 years of experience in supporting, educating, and advocating for and empowering children and families.” She’s also a single mom who has advocated tirelessly for her children enrolled in Wake County Schools. Carter was one of the many parents whose children were struggling with MVP Math, the controversial curriculum picked by the school board in 2017.
Like several other candidates, transparency is one of Carter’s platform pieces, and on her site, she says, “It is necessary to hold WCPSS accountable. Consistent transparency is the first step in this process.” Carter’s “Listen, Learn, Lead” platform also points to the need for the district to refocus and get back to ‘solid’ and ‘proven’ academics. “Each student should be provided with a sound education with proven vetted curriculums and any necessary academic support to ensure they rise to the next level,” Carter’s website says.
Challenger 2: Daniel Madding
Madding is an IT manager who has two boys in public school and has lived in NC since 1996. Education is important to him as he is dyslexic, which made him a late reader. His website says that he was active in the PTA at their elementary school and is also engaged at the middle school as his sons are now both there.
Madding says that WCPSS’s redistricting mess is what got him to run and he says that process “unnecessarily disrupted four of the five middle schools in District 9.” .Madding goes on to say that “Middle school is hard enough on a child without having to unnecessarily change schools and that families feedback “fell on the deaf ears of the District 9 incumbent.” Despite the deaf ears line and the MVP Math mess, Madding seems to want to keep ‘hands off’ curriculum choices unless they cost “millions.”
Madding seems to have some misconceptions about charter schools, stating that “charter schools don’t provide transportation and other services, which leads to more socio-economically advantaged families choosing charter schools.” Truth:Charters get far less money than their traditional counterparts, yet many of them do provide transporation anyway.
Don’t Forget This Board’s History
One of the big things driving voters this year will be the board’s increasing lack of transparency, which includes altering records request policies to charge fees in an attempt to discourage parents and the public from asking for materials. Other issues that will likely come up are the board’s inability to keep within their constantly rising billion-dollar budget and the inability to plan for growth and build schools accordingly as evidenced by the persistence of trailer farms attached to every school in the district – even brand new ones.
COVID-19 is getting in the way right now, but this board is dead set on reassigning students based on their “socioeconomic index” rating. If you are unfamiliar with this term, this is a scenario where your child will be assigned to a school-based on a score derived from various economic variables. That school could be on the other side of town instead of the one near your home. I outlined this entire process back in March – read it.
Speaking of COVID-19, the board had no continuity of education plan in place when the school closures hit and their tone-deaf commentary about remote learning was hard to miss. The board’s current reopening plan is an amped-up version of the state’s “Plan B,” which is a hybrid of remote and on-campus learning. Wake County’s version is one week at school, two weeks at home with a social distancing busing plan that has parents expecting to have to drive their kid unless they want to miss half the school day.
On the academic front, test scores are nothing to write home about, especially in low-income schools in the district. Perhaps somewhat uncoincidentally, there’s also been a steady increase in social justice and politically motivated curriculum pumped into classrooms since the Office Of Equity Affairs (OEA) was established. That office, with a staff of 8, has cost taxpayers millions and has produced exactly nothing. The OEA has promoted radicals like BLM’s Patrisse Cullors, anti-American historical revisionist Howard Zinn, and continues to push teacher training modules from the progressive propaganda from Teaching Tolerence, the far-left agenda-driven offshoot of the now-disgraced Southern Poverty Law Center.
Don’t forget about the MVP Math debacle, with its ability to take A students to D students in the span of a single quarter. The WCPSS board championed that curriculum and ultimately kept it after a series of ‘evaluation’ charades conducted on the taxpayer dime. Also don’t forget, MVP Math attempted to intimidate and silence one father by suing him. The dad counter-sued and MVP dropped the case. All of the MVP court filings are available at Parents Rights. News coverage about the lawsuit and other MVP topics is available at the parent-run Wake MVP site. Carolina Parent also has a good multi-part series on that case.
In the same vein as the social justice pushes by the OEA are WCPSS’ continued invasion of student privacy and violation of federal law both at the district level with the use of the BIMAS-2 psychological assessment and with the “Diversity Inventory.”
Often unreported by media are the retaliatory actions carried out again parents who question the board’s activities, which has included leaking personal information in records requests, sharing of parent emails with other divisions, and cutting programs at schools attended by children of certain parents who have questioned the board’s activities. In one case, a parent who was also a teacher was forced out of her job for pushing back on questionable activities and materials being used in Wake County classrooms. The threat of reassignment has also been employed by the district: