Education

Student advisers set to return to State Board of Education in August

Two high school students — Greear Webb (left) and Myles Cyrus (right) – urged Johnson to bring back student advisers during the State Board of Education’s board meeting in April.

After a three year absence due to political infighting, student advisers are returning to the State Board of Education (SBE).

Superintendent Mark Johnson has begun accepting applications for two student representatives to serve as nonvoting advisers.

Two students, a rising junior and a rising senior, will be selected to serve. The senior will serve a one-year term and the junior a two-year term beginning in August.

The SBE has been without student advisers since 2016.

The program was suspended amid the well-publicized, two-year long power struggle between the board and State Superintendent Mark Johnson.

North Carolina law authorized the governor to appointment two high school students to serve as advisers to the state board, but the Republican-led General Assembly handed the authority to the state superintendent as part of a power grab that led to a lengthy legal battle.

The legal wrangling ended with the State Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of House Bill 17, which rearranged the responsibilities of the superintendent and transferred certain powers of the state board to Johnson.

Johnson said in April that he couldn’t appoint students to the board until after the legal questions around HB 17 were answered.

“That entire law was put on hold for a year and a half because of lawsuits, so nobody could appoint a student adviser,” Johnson said in April. “When the court proceedings were finally finished in summer of 2018, that is when it took the restraining order off of that law and I had the ability to appoint a student adviser.”

Two high students — Greear Webb and Myles Cyrus – gave Johnson a nudge in April with compelling arguments for students advisers during the SBE’s board meeting in April.

“If we are in the room where the decisions are made, we can clearly and intentionally help you to structure our education in the most effective and successful way possible,” said Webb, who graduated Sanderson High School in Raleigh this week and is headed to UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall.

Cyrus, a 2019 graduate of Fike High School in Wilson who is headed to Wake Forest in the fall, urged the board to all create a representative student panel “from across the state that meets with the board periodically to discuss certain policies and how they’re implemented and what their impact is and how students are changed because of that policy.”

The deadline to apply for a seat on the SBE is June 30. Students may fill out the application posted at: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc7xsCZlJjFQY_31cyWQUPS5khqNybCQRfA1mUSnlMWJApwQA/viewform.

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