By Jonathan Carlson
The future of Wake County Schools superintendent Tony Tata remained uncertain Monday after the Wake County Board of Education recessed from a three-hour closed-door session.
Three Republicans board members _ John Tedesco, Debra Goldman and Chris Malone _ spoke to reporters immediately after the meeting, visibly upset and expressing their anger.
Because it was a closed meeting, they could not discuss what exactly took place. But the clear implication was the Democratic members of the board were attempting to force Tata out of his job.
Chris Malone said he was “disgusted” by what happened.
Debra Goldman said, “I'm not happy,” and called the meeting “strained.”
And John Tedesco, when asked if the meeting was about Tata's future, told the media, “Oh, come on guys, you know why.”
Board chair Kevin Hill, one of five Democrats on the board, refused to comment. “It is a closed session,” he said tersely when asked if the meeting was about Tata.
The board is scheduled to meet Tuesday at 3 p.m. for another closed session to move forward. The board would need a two-thirds majority to fire Tata in closed session.
Tata was not in the meeting at the end.
Around 4 p.m., Tata sped by reporters in a car driven by an assistant. He refused to stop for comment.
Tata was hired when the board had a Republican majority. Ron Margiotta, a Republican who was the former chair of the board, lost in the last election to Democrat Susan Evans.
Margiotta, reached by NBC-17 Monday night, called the current board “dysfunctional.” He also termed the three new members of the board, all Democrats, as “extremists.”
Margiotta praised Tata as being “extremely principled and not a political person.”
While Tata has backers on the Republican side, the Democrats, thanks to Evans' win over Margiotta, now have a 5-4 majority and ultimate say over the system.
Republican members asked for the meeting to be open, but were out-voted by Democrats.
The Republicans and Democratic-led board have been at odds over nearly everything for the past year, and the start of this school year has been overshadowed by assignment and busing controversies.
Meanwhile, Tata's supporters rallied outside the Wake County Public School System headquarters in Cary Monday afternoon.
Tata, who is also still under contract, came into the job in 2010 and makes $250,000 a year.
To fire him before his contract ends would likely mean a financial penalty the district would have to pay. The district told NBC-17 that amount would be determined by the board.
There is no clause in the contract that discusses money should he be prematurely terminated.