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Board of Education asks Court of Appeals to pause transfer of power to Superintendent

Superintendent Mark Johnson (left) and State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (right)

The State Board of Education has officially asked [1] the Court of Appeals to stop Superintendent Mark Johnson from taking the reigns of the Department of Public Instruction until the appeal process is complete.

The motion for temporary stay and writ of supersedeas was filed late Tuesday afternoon. A three-judge Superior Court panel ruled for Johnson in a lawsuit over the transfer of power but issued a 60-day stay to prevent its ruling from going into effect right away.

The Board’s attorneys used those 60 days to try to negotiate with Johnson’s attorneys but were unsuccessful, so they went back to the panel to ask for another stay. The panel gave the Board 30 more days [2], which ends at 5 p.m. Monday, October 16.

Now, the Board is asking the appellate court to step in and extend the stay to preserve the status quo while litigation continues.

“Here, a stay of the trial court’s decision during the appeal is warranted because it is necessary to preserve the Board’s constitutional power and duty to supervise and administer the State’s public schools — a nearly 150-year-old responsibility,” the court document states.

The Board’s argument is that its power is derived — and has been for 150 years — from the N.C. Constitution.

“In stark contrast to the broad, sweeping powers and duties that the North Carolina Constitution confers on the Board, the North Carolina Constitution has always confined the [Superintendent of Public Instruction] to a limited role,” it states.

The document contends that a constitutional amendment would be required to flip-flop the Board’s and the SPI’s constitutionally mandated roles.

Without the appellate court issuing a stay, the legislation in question will move the entire $10 billion public school system under the control of a single individual for the first time in North Carolina history, according to the court document.

“This seismic shift will generate enormous disruption for our State’s public schools,” it states. “Worse, this seismic
shift would occur overnight, without any transition period whatsoever. As part of this disruption, the SPI would be immediately empowered to take drastic actions that could not be undone.”

Board’s Motion for Temporary Stay and Petition for Writ of Supersedeas [3] by NC Policy Watch [4] on Scribd