Archives

Members of the Pitt County school board voted 9-1 Monday night to join a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s new school voucher program—the sixth local school board to do so since the complaint was filed in mid-December. The school board also passed a resolution indicating their district would not participate in the new teacher contract system.

The North Carolina School Boards Association filed a complaint against the state on December 16, calling into question the General Assembly’s decision to provide $4,200 annual taxpayer-funded school vouchers for student attendance at private schools, alleging that the legislation violates the state constitution.

“There are serious legal and constitutional issues that surround this [voucher] program,” said attorney and former NC Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, who is working on behalf of the NC School Boards Association in the voucher litigation. “The declaratory judgment action says we have a responsibility under the constitution to provide a sound basic education to every child in the state and we need the court to answer this question.” Read More

Just two months after hearing argument from the parties in the Pitt County Schools desegregation case (read more here), Senior U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard has ruled in favor of the school district, finding that it had in good faith complied with the court’s prior desegregation orders and achieved unitary status.

Wrote Howard:

As Chief Justice Roberts recently stated, times have changed since the 1960s. See Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct.2612, 2625-26 (2013) (noting that “our Nation has made great strides” in ensuring the civil rights of minorities). Our society no longer tolerates separate lunch counters, drinking fountains, schools and buses for individuals based on the color of their skin, their race, or their ethnicity. Minorities are not only entitled to vote, they “hold office at unprecedented levels.” Id. (quoting Northwest Austin Munic. Util. Dist. No. 1v. Holder, 557 u.s. 193, 202 (2009)). Nevertheless, some individual prejudices still exist and, history tells us, always will. However, it is not the function of this or any other court to assume the role of supervising our schools due to the prejudices of a few. The School Board has proven that the vestiges of state-mandated discrimination practiced over forty years ago have been eliminated to the extent practicable and that the School Board, as well as its predecessor boards, has complied in good faith with this court’s desegregation orders and possesses a good faith commitment to the eradication of de jure discrimination in its schools.

For these reasons, the court hereby GRANTS the School Board’s Motion for Declaration of Unitary Status.

Attorneys for the parties have not yet commented on the decision, but an appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is likely.

Read Howard’s full decision here.