Pitt County BOE tables open enrollment athletics moratorium vote after contentious debate

Pitt County BOE tables open enrollment athletics moratorium vote after contentious debate (Image 1)

The Pitt County Board of Education hotly debated issues Monday night concerning open enrollment at J. H. Rose High School.

Board member Mary Blount-Williams made a motion to amend the board’s previous decision by placing a one year moratorium on athletics for any student wishing to enroll at Rose High.

The board had voted 5 to 3 back in April to allow open enrollment at Rose High School drawing quick criticism from the public and within the board itself.

“That was nothing but a surprise,” said Board Chair Worth Forbes who took issue with the original vote. “It was already discussed. The votes were already gathered. They knew they had the votes to pass it and I felt it was done underhandedly.” 

This drew sharp comments from Blount-Williams who told WNCT in April that academics were the driving force in her decision. Williams whose district includes North Pitt High School said that the school has only 5 AP classes while Rose High has 19.

“It’s unfair, it’s inappropriate for you as the Board Chair to say that something was underhandedly done, that we had the votes and there was this big conspiracy. That’s not true,” chided Williams. “My intent here, just like I said at the other board meeting is the academics.” 

Despite this sentiment, the athletic directors from D. H. Conley, South Central, North Pitt, Ayden-Grifton and Farmville-Central all attended the meeting to express their concerns.

North Pitt High School Athletic Director Brent Wooten spoke for the unlikely coalition. 

“As an AP Psychology teacher, I do not want to lose the brightest students at North Pitt because a larger school is capable of offering more courses,” said Wooten. “The open enrollment policy creates a free agent type of environment for athletics and is in direct contradiction to the primary goals of high school athletics.

In April, parents told 9 On Your Side they believed Rose High’s declining enrollment which put the school’s 4-A athletic classification in jeopardy influenced the board’s decision.

After much further discussion, Vice-Chair Benjie Forrest made a motion to table the 1-year moratorium vote until the board’s June 1st meeting.

The motion was passed, 5 to 4.

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