Triangle schools could see more money

February 29, 2008 6:13:28 AM PST
A lawsuit that started nearly a decade ago is expected to head back into a court room Friday with millions of dollars at stake.

In 2001, Wake County Superior Court Judge Abraham Pen Jones ruled that six North Carolina school districts are the rightful beneficiaries of civil fines. These fines range from university campus parking tickets and library late fees to the civil penalties paid by polluters, operators of overweight trucks and late taxpayers.

The state had collected $600 million dollars and civil penalties and appealed Judge Jones' decision to keep the money. The state lost the appeal based on Article IX, Section 7 of the North Carolina Constitution which states, "The clear process of all penalties and all fines collected in several counties shall remain in the counties and shall be faithfully appropriated and used exclusively for maintaining free public schools."

Only six school districts originally filed suit against the state for the money collected in their counties. While Wake County Judge Howard Manning, Jr. has already decided in favor of the schools getting around $600 million, Judge Manning must consider another issue ? whether approximately $90 million dollars collected between January 1996 and September 1997 should go to all the schools or just the six school systems who were the original plaintiffs.

Approximate money waiting for Triangle area school districts:

WAKE COUTNY $70 MILLION
DURHAM $17 MILLION
JOHNSTON COUNTY $16 MILLION
CHAPEL HILL-CARRBORO $ 6 MILLION
ORANGE COUTNY $ 4 MILLION
CHATHAM COUNTY $ 4 MILLION

The money is to be paid over a few years based on the number of students in the district.


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