NC Supreme Court considers Leandro education plan funding

Anthony Wilson Image
Wednesday, August 31, 2022
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The North Carolina Supreme Court is considering arguments related to the Leandro education plan.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Supreme Court is considering arguments related to the Leandro education plan.

As detailed by our news gathering partners at the News & Observer, lawyers for the state's public schools clashed with those representing Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday.

The issue: Should the courts step in and require more funding for education in the state's public schools?

The public schools lawyers says state lawmakers haven't provided the needed resources to give students a basic education that's sound.

Advocates for children who live in rural counties including Hoke, Halifax, Robeson, Vance and Cumberland held a prayer vigil outside the building where justices heard arguments.

"Today we stand in hope," said Reverend Rebecca Hewitt Newson. "Hope that they will provide another leap forward to provide the children a minimum of what the North Carolina Constitution guarantees that, sound basic education."

In 1997, North Carolina's Supreme Court ruled that all students are entitled to a basic education. But seven years later a lower court ruled that that standard was not met for all students. By 2021, a remedial plan calling for spending millions to provide help for those students was not fully funded by the legislature.

Matthew Tilley, the attorney for House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate Leader Phil Berger, said requiring that funding would violate the State Constitution's separation of powers.

"The fact that the court has examined statewide evidence does not mean that it found statewide problems," he said.

Melanie Dubis, the attorney for the school districts, pushed back during her turn before the bench.

"The legislature cannot carry out its constitutional duty in an unconstitutional way, which it has done of 20 years and which the interveners want to continue," she said.

Now the court, with a 4-3 Democratic majority, will consider both sides before issuing a decision.