Name as it Appears on the Ballot: DeWarren K. Langley
Date of Birth: September 28, 1984
Campaign Web Site: www.langleyfordurham.com
Occupation & Employer: Document Review Associate, Synergy Legal Professionals & Executive Director, Charles Houston Foundation, Inc.
Cell phone: 919-423-8089
1. If elected, what are your top priorities?
Education is the key to pathways of opportunity and success, thus my top priority when elected, is to work together to ensure all students are given the key. Every child in Durham County deserves and will receive a high quality education that prepares them to reach their dreams in college, the workforce and as engaged citizens. As a Member of the School Board, I will:
→ Foster ACHIEVEMENT for all students to reduce disparities in achievement & discipline to ensure our students receive a high quality education by making decisions in the best interest of our students. → Promote ACCOUNTABILITY among all stakeholders by monitoring policies & initiatives consistent with the mission of DPS and making corrective measures when necessary.
→ Work tirelessly to ensure that the highest level of ACCESSIBLITY, ethics, transparency is afforded to our students, our teachers, our schools & our community. Attend and host community meetings to share & receive information to make the best decisions for our students.
Achievement, accountability, and accessibility are essential ingredients that will drive the success of our students, Durham Public Schools and the community at-large.
2. What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.
As a live long resident of Durham, I have approximately 17 years of results oriented leadership, service and experience as a community advocate on civic and political issues on the local and state levels. I have consistently demonstrated the ability to work well with diverse people and ideas to achieve common goals to improve the quality of life in Durham such as reducing crime, creating affordable housing, expanding employment opportunities for youth, effectively developing and utilizing diversion strategies & programs for troubled students, reducing homelessness through permanent & rapid rehousing and increasing academic outcomes for students in public housing.
Since my teen years as a student at Jordan High School to present, I have been involved with (1) closing the achievement gap, (2) supporting teachers, (3) urging the Board of Education to focus on the best interest of students, (4) improving school conditions, (5) supporting comprehensive sex education, (6) advocating for small class sizes, (7) promoting community-based partnerships to support student social & personal needs outside the classroom, (8) developing a system-wide strategy to booster achievement among male students of color, (9) increased employment opportunities for students to translate the theories of the classroom to the practical work environment and (10) urging the Board to support the Office on Youth as the lead agency to coordinate youth services in Durham.
In 2003, I presented the idea and concept of the Durham Youth Commission to the Durham City Council which has operated through the Office on Youth for 11 years providing students of Durham Public Schools with an opportunity to have a formal role in the City’s planning and decision making process. Since its inception, over 300 students have served on the Commission.
My service to the community and Durham has resulted in numerous prestigious awards such as:
→ 2013 Outstanding Citizen Spectrum of Democracy Award from the NC Center for Voter Education;
→ 2013 Martin Luther King, Jr. Service Award from the Durham Community Martin Luther King Jr. Steering Committee, Inc.;
→ 2012 Proud Shoes Award from the Southwest Central Durham Quality of Life Project;
→ 2011 Student Pro Bono Public Service Award from the North Carolina State Bar;
→ 2011 H.M. Michaux Award for Public Service from North Carolina Central University School of Law;
→ 2010 Outstanding Leadership & Service Award from the Black Law Students Association at North Carolina Central University School of Law;
→ 2003 First Place Columns Category in the High School Communications Competition of the National Federation of Press Women;
→ 2003 First Place - Columns Category in the High School Journalism Contest of the North Carolina Press Club
→ 2001 Durham Grit Award with Oak Gavel Device - The Herald Sun
→ 2001 Citizen Award - Independent Weekly
My current involvements are as follows:
→ Member, Youth Council of the Workforce Development Board
• Work with members of the Council to develop a local plan related to youth activities, recommend eligible providers to be awarded grants or contracts, conduct appropriate oversight to ensure objectives are met and youth are effectively served and coordinate other workforce development initiatives in Durham. Disseminate information to community & youth service agencies about Durham YouthWork Internship Program. Interview youth applicants to assess employment experience, academic performance, skills, extracurricular involvement and employment interest to rank the youth and make hiring recommendations. Provide constructive feedback to youth applicants on responses to interview questions, advice on study & test taking strategies to improve academic performance and made suggestions on methods to develop skills for employment opportunities.
→ Co-Facilitator, Partners Against Crime - District III
• Enable residents to work effectively, collaboratively and achieve synergy to reach consensus to find sustainable solutions to minimize crime, promote safety, and enhance the quality of life in partnership with City & County government officials in District III which is comprised of 29 square miles and approximately 74,000 residents. Represent District III at the Durham Crime Cabinet and volunteer with Project Safe Neighborhood to change the norms that make gun violence acceptable through targeted outreach efforts and public awareness campaigns.
→ Member, Citizen Capital Improvement Panel - City of Durham
• Advise the City Council in the creation of the Capital Improvement Plan which is a statement of the City of Durham’s policy regarding long-range physical development of projects with a total expenditure of at least $100,000. The Plan is designed to achieve urban growth & development for a six year period and is updated and revised annually.
→ Vice Chairman, Durham County Juvenile Crime Prevention Council
• Plan, organize and evaluate locally-based programs designed to prevent and mitigate juvenile delinquency in Durham County by developing & submitting an annual service proposal for the expenditure of over $500,000 appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly to the Board of County Commissioners for its approval. Monitor 10 youth service organizations to ensure compliance with scope of work and service to diverted youth from the juvenile justice system. As Chair of the Public Awareness/Publicity Committee, work to increase public awareness of the causes of delinquency and of strategies to reduce the problem and organize Annual Youth Resource Fair at the Back To School Party hosted by the Durham Rescue Mission attended by over 1,000 youth and adults. → Academic Tutor, Project FINE (Future is Now in Education)
• Provide academic support & tutorial services to 20 middle & high school students in Algebra, Calculus, language arts, social studies & civics courses. Advise students on study & test taking strategies. Communicate with teachers, students & parents to optimize academic progress & outcomes.
→ Secretary, Criminal Justice Advisory Committee
• Ensure procedures and policies are followed during meetings, accurate minutes of meetings are taken and approved, send notices of meetings, and manage general correspondence to and from CJAC. Work to develop a comprehensive continuum of services for the adult criminal justice system, identify services gaps, and develop intervention strategies and comprehensive solutions through recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners. As a member of the Raise the Age Committee, worked to develop the Misdemeanor Diversion Program to help first-time offenders, 16 and 17-year-olds avoid an adult criminal record by referring youth offenders to treatment options or be required to complete 8-24 hours of community service instead of being arrested.
→ Chairman, Civilian Police Review Board - City of Durham
• In collaboration with the Vice Chairman, provide leadership to the CPRB with fulfilling its duties, which consists of nine (9) members to hear appeals of complaints submitted by citizens concerning actions taken by members of the Police Department. Determine whether or not the investigation by the Professional Standards Division of the Police Department was conducted in an appropriate manner, specifically, whether the police department abused its discretion in conducting of the investigation. Examine the written evidence submitted by the complainant and the police department to determine whether a hearing should be held. If the evidence persuades the Board a hearing is justified, the Board will hold a hearing and submit its’ findings to the City Manager. Complete an Annual Report to the City Manager.
→ Chairman, Citizens Advisory Committee
• In collaboration with the Vice Chair, provide leadership to the CAC, which consists of 15 members, to enhance housing quality & affordability for the citizens of Durham by advising the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners on housing and community development needs. Evaluate applications and make annual recommendations to the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners concerning the expenditure of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) and Emergency Solution Grant (ESG) funds to sub-recipients. Receive monthly grant activity reports from the staff of the Department of Community Development as well as other reports that the staff may deem appropriate with the CAC providing constructive input. Facilitate citizen participation in the planning and implementation of the Five-Year Consolidated Plan and Annual Action Plan. Identify priorities and assist the Department of Community Development staff in the formulation of the Annual Action Plan. Work collaboratively with the Department of Community Development staff to prepare, review and amend the Citizens Participation Plan for the Five-Year Consolidated Plan and identify city-wide and neighborhood community development needs. Review and comment on neighborhood plans. Provide advisory oversight for the Durham City-County HOME Consortium planning, operations and evaluation to carry out multi-year housing strategies through assistance to first-time homebuyers and existing homeowners, property acquisition, improvements, tenant-based rental assistance, demolition, relocation expenses and other reasonable and necessary expenses related to the development of affordable housing for persons of low income.
→ Member, Board of Directors, Antioch Builds Community, Inc.
• Develop & execute programs such as Traditional Housing, Christmas Dinner for the homeless, Youth Summer Camps, Faith Teams, African-American Male Leadership Program and hosting Faith Partnership meetings to improve the quality of life in Northeast Central Durham. As Chair of the Marketing Committee, strengthen external network & outreach activities while raising awareness about ABC by maintaining the website and brochures.
→ Member, Board of Directors, Calvary Ministries of the Westend Community, Inc.
• Manage the personnel, financial & infrastructure operations of the Community Family Life & Recreation Center at Lyon Park which comprises of an early childhood development program, free community clinic, youth mentoring program, afterschool tutorial program, senior day care program, dance studio, gymnasium and computer labs.
→ Secretary, Durham Community MLK Steering Committee, Inc.
• Solicit funds and publicize scholarship applications to award five $500 academic scholarships to graduating seniors of Durham Public Schools, annually.
My past involvements are as follows:→ Vice Chairman of Youth Civic Engagement, Kids Voting Durham
3. How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I am a registered Democrat since 2002 when I first registered to vote. I have never changed my party registration. Politically, I am socially progressive and fiscally conservative. In my service to others, I consistently seek to be both representative and responsible. The basic precepts of my political philosophy about representative government involve my strong belief of stakeholder engagement to ensure policy, programs and initiatives are responsive to the needs of the demographic served; active listening, open to the ideas of others, compromise when necessary and serve with integrity, honesty and vigor. My support for participatory governance is reflected in my advocacy for the creation of the Durham Youth Commission, involving residents of the Southside community in the Southside Revitalization Project and engaging students in the decisions of the Board of Education through the Student Advisory Council.
4. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
While charter schools may not be popular in the district, due to the actions of the General Assembly they are a fact of life. I believe we should work collaboratively with both existing charter schools and new charter schools to make sure all students are receiving the best education possible.
5. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
I firmly believe that education is the key to pathways of opportunity and success which will aid our students in reaching their full potential and decreases chances of poverty. I adhere to the mantra: to whom much is given, much is expected and required. I believe I can leverage my experience growing up in a low income community, attending college, engaging in the community and maintaining stable employment as a means of developing appropriate policies and initiatives to prepare students for college, the workforce and to be engaged citizens. Specifically, I want to support early childhood education, incorporating technology in the classroom, building community partnerships to better serve students, engaging parents and supporting our teachers through incentives with local businesses. In addition, I want to fight against state funding cuts and work to build a collaborative relationship with the increasing number of charter schools in Durham County.
6. Minority children and children with disabilities are suspended from DPS at higher rates than their white counterparts. To what do you attribute this disparity? How should this disparity be resolved?
Studies have shown that there is a connection between poverty, minority status and discipline problems. I believe this connection results in the disparities between the races. In recent years, a disturbing shift has occurred in our education system whereby suspension and juvenile court referrals are employed to deal with student behavior rather than traditional/alternative or restorative justice solutions which correct the behavior yet keep students in school. I recognize staffing challenges in public school, statutory mandates and limited resources; however, we cannot continue to allow deficiencies in resources to result in mis-education and mass incarceration of our students, while disproportionately and negatively affecting students with disabilities and students of color.
Many students in Durham Public Schools are dealing with social, economic and mental health challenges beyond the training of teachers which requires additional social workers to better assess student needs and connect the student with needed services and resources to mitigate those challenges to improve classroom outcomes. Connecting students with the services and support they need would deal with the underlying issue and keep students in the learning environment. To effectively provide services, it will require strategic relationships with government and community-based youth service agencies and engaging teachers, students and parents to assess student needs and connect the student with the appropriate service provider.
7. The Durham Board of Education recently joined a lawsuit with dozens of other public school districts challenge the law that ends teacher tenure. Tell the voters about your views on this law and the board’s legal challenge to it.
I support the lawsuit opposing a new state law that, in four years, will end career status for teachers in North Carolina. Career status prevents teachers from being fired for political reasons. It ensures all teachers are subject to due process before being terminated. Ending career status will inevitably lead to teachers not feeling like the valued partners in education that I believe they are. Promoting and sustaining students’ academic achievement is arguably the most important component of a teacher’s job which many of our teachers diligently perform day after day thus they should be provided with the right to due process in the event of termination.
8. The General Assembly passed sweeping legislation on education budgets, teacher pay, vouchers and charter schools in the last session. Assess the impact of that legislation, either as a whole or individual laws. Which laws do you agree/disagree with? Why?
The North Carolina General Assembly made a number of changes to public education in North Carolina that will weaken public education.
Last year, the legislature passed laws that:
1. Eliminated teacher tenure & cap on class size
2. Ended extra pay for teachers who earn master’s degrees
3. Created a voucher system for low-income students.
I disagreed with each of those decisions because collective those decisions will decrease teacher morale, enlarge classrooms to make it difficult to effectively instruct and remove needed financial resources from our District. We cannot strengthen our District by loosening the fabric that makes our District strong, i.e, teachers and financial resources.
9. Several candidates in this year’s school board election have strong ties to charter schools. For candidates with those ties: Why are you seeking election to a public school board? What are the pros and cons of vouchers? How would you respond to perceptions that charter school employees could have an agenda in pursuing election to the public school board? And if you were to share the board with members who are unaffiliated with charters, how would you address your policy differences?
For those candidates unaffiliated with charter schools: Should the state provide vouchers to parents who choose private (K-12) schools for their children? If so, for what amount? What are the pros and cons of vouchers? What is the impact of the voucher program on public schools? And if you were to share the board with members who are affiliated with charters, how would you address your policy differences?
I do not support school vouchers. Similarly, school vouchers divest Durham Public Schools of state funds to allow students to attend private or religious schools that are not held to the same academic & accountability standards as public schools.
The idea behind school vouchers, similarly with charter schools, is to provide alternatives to students, however such alternatives are not consistent with the state academic and accountability standards for preparing students for college, the workforce and to be engaged citizens. Our district should work with parents to assess the needs and gaps in services for their child and connect the child with the supportive services necessary to ensure their educational needs are met within Durham Public Schools. If elected, I will work with teachers, administrators and parents to ensure that Durham Public Schools is known for providing assessments and alignment of services to support the education of all students.
Furthermore, Article IX, Education, Section 6, State School Fund states that all moneys, stocks, bonds and other property belong to the State for purposes of public education shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for establishing and maintaining a uniform system of free public schools. As a State and District, we should hold true to that constitutional commitment.
When serving on the board with members who are affiliated with charters, I would listen with an open mind and work to achieve compromise consistent with the best interest of the students and the District.
10. Durham’s school system is facing perhaps one of the most challenging budget years in recent history. What direction will you give to school administration to balance the budget? In what areas would you recommend cutbacks and which services should remain untouched?
With state cuts and the growing demand for local revenue, I would direct the school administration to balance the budget by critically evaluating the allocation of resources to ensure expenditures are in the best interest of the students and directly align with the outcomes of the strategic plan. We could reduce cost by examining and improving operations throughout the district and asking upper-level administrators to forgo automatic raises which may be written in their contracts.
As for services that should remain untouched, I believe the teacher supply budget, however small it is. Teachers are already underpaid and to require them to dip further in their pockets to supply their classrooms is unreasonable.
11. The previous superintendent, Eric Becoats, resigned amid allegations of financial irregularities in his office. What oversight was lacking that led to Becoats’ financial questions? How should this oversight policy be rectified? What is the board seeking in a new superintendent? Are there aspects of the search process that could be improved?
The Board of Education relies on the Superintendent to provide an accurate and transparent accounting of District financial resources. The next superintendent must have sound judgment in the use of District financial resources and the Board should require the Superintendent to report financial information on a quarterly basis to provide sufficient oversight. These reports should be carefully reviewed by the Board to ensure funds are being spent appropriately. In the era of tight budgets, we must ensure money is being spent efficiently and effectively.
The most important decision of the Board of Education is the selection of a superintendent. The successful candidate for superintendent of Durham Public Schools should be able to provide visionary leadership and sound judgment in:
1. curriculum & instruction
2. goal setting & monitoring achievement
3. fostering community and/or intergovernmental partnerships
4. administration & organization of short-term & long-term strategic planning, budgeting, and personnel and facility management
5. strong communication and effective team-building
6. procuring additional funding
7. visibility and involvement in community activities
8. leadership in maintaining safe & orderly school environments
9. planning and funding of school facilities
10. decision making, delegation, and follow-through
11. effective board relations
12. appropriate & effective principal, teacher, & student engagement
13. promoting technology in the classroom.
The process to hire a new superintendent should be efficient, cost-effective, transparent, and involve all stakeholders – students, parents, teachers, administrators and the Board. Once the Board of Education has narrowed the list of candidates to the finalist, the finalist should participate in a public forum to allow questions and answers from all stakeholders.