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Gov. McCrory promises response on Justice Department’s H.B. 2 letter Monday

Gov. Pat McCrory

Gov. Pat McCrory told reporters Thursday afternoon that he would have a response to the U.S. Justice Department’s letter on House Bill 2 by Monday.

McCrory’s comments, the only reference he made to the controversial legislation that axes local LGBTQ protections, came moments after a mostly congenial discussion of school choice and classroom technology in Chapel Hill Thursday.

The governor did not elaborate on what that response would be and took no more questions before leaving the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity, a decidedly right-leaning discussion that brought together education leaders in the N.C. General Assembly, activists like Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform, Jimmy Kemp of the Jack Kemp Foundation and, of course, the governor himself.

His brief comments came after state House Speaker Tim Moore said this week that the federal department’s Monday deadline for action on House Bill 2 would come and go.

Leaders with the department told state officials that the controversial legislation violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX of federal education law. As Policy Watch reported in March, the latter claim could jeopardize billions in federal education dollars in North Carolina. 

Otherwise, on Thursday, the governor took the opportunity to restate his positions on charter schools, suggesting education leaders in the state are too traditional in their approach to schools and that government should leave open choices for parents.

McCrory called it “discouraging” that parents have to await the results of a lottery before gaining acceptance to a charter of their choice.

“I hate to hear they have 70 slots open and 1,000 people on the waiting list,” said McCrory. “There’s something wrong where we’re not adapting to the demand.”

And with leaders in the legislature discussing his proposal for a 5 percent average pay increase for teachers, the governor also suggested that discussions of teacher pay should be taken out of state hands and left to local leaders.

“Why not give the money to (local leaders) and let them decide how to spend it?” McCrory said. “Why make it the same across the board?”

We’ll have more on Thursday’s forum tomorrow.

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