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Wake Co. supt. forum sparsely attended as group complains outside

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A group of community activists say Wake Co. school resource officers are abusing minority students. A group of community activists say Wake Co. school resource officers are abusing minority students.
Almost no one attended the first "Superintendent's Direct Line" forum at East Wake HS. Almost no one attended the first "Superintendent's Direct Line" forum at East Wake HS.
WENDELL, N.C. -

Wake County Schools Superintendent Jim Merrill is keeping quiet one day after a group of lawyers, students and parents filed a complaint against the school system with the U.S. Department of Justice. 

The group claims school resource officers unfairly target black and disabled students, charging them with adult crimes for matters, they say, should often be handled by school administrators.

"With us in litigation, we're not going to talk about that," Merrill told WNCN on Thursday night.

The comment followed a forum called "The Superintendent's Direct Line" at East Wake High School. 

The forum was the first in a series for anyone to talk directly to Merrill.  Just one person spoke at the podium and almost no one attended.

Two hours before that event, some of the people behind the federal complaint held a press conference, also at East Wake High School.  Lawyers with North Carolina Legal Aid, North Carolina's chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP joined parents who were concerned about policing practices.

"The cops at our schools are not there to keep kids like us safe," Cary High School senior Qasima Wideman said.

"It's time. It's time to bring awareness to what is happening," Diana Powell, executive director of Justice Served NC said.  "I had someone ask me the other day, 'How could you fight a system that is so hard?' I said, 'What are we supposed to do? Sit back and do absolutely nothing? The answer is no.'"

Those concerns were raised with the press, but not with Merrill at his forum that was held at the same building just two hours later.

"It's the start of something, but I appreciate those who came," Merrill said.  "They were sincere. I enjoyed hearing what they had to say."

Brian Mountcastle was the first and last person to speak at the podium.

"I appreciate the fact that they're reaching out, as a parent," Mountcastle said, "and this is the first time I really know the district leadership for the school system to come to eastern Wake."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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