NAACP Charlotte-Mecklenburg Chapter urges the Court to reject efforts by the Speaker, Senate President, and Controller to bypass constitutional obligations to NC students and fully fund public schools
RALEIGH, N.C. – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a response on behalf of Plaintiff-Intervenors Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP to dismiss motions by North Carolina Legislative-Intervenors and the State Controller Nels Roseland seeking to circumvent the November 4th ruling in the longstanding school funding equity case known as Leandro v. North Carolina. Defendants filed separate motions with the state Supreme Court requesting a reinstatement of a previous order from the North Carolina Court of Appeals that would prevent the constitutionally-mandated transfer of education funds.
The Plaintiff-Intervenors’ response blasts the defendants for seeking to relitigate and further delay enforcement of the Supreme Court’s November 4, 2022 decision. That decision affirmed the constitutionality of a court order requiring the State to transfer funds that would support the court-approved comprehensive remedial plan. Defendants failed to file a motion for rehearing and that deadline has long passed. Defendants are now trying to circumvent the law with the current motions, but those motions fully lack merit – as laid out in Intervenors’ response.
“The State has repeatedly failed to meet its constitutional requirement to provide a sound, basic education to every student, especially its long-neglected historically marginalized students of color. The Supreme Court recently admonished the General Assembly’s leadership for its recalcitrant behavior, yet they still persist, hoping that the newly configured Supreme Court will bite,” said David Hinojosa, lead counsel of the Lawyers’ Committee for Plaintiff-Intervenors. “Neither the state constitution nor precedent allow for such willful defiance. The state must immediately transfer critical education funds to schools as required by law.”
“We are deeply disturbed and terribly upset with the latest shenanigans by Controller Nels Roseland, Speaker Timothy Moore, and Senator Philip Berger. For generations, we have been fighting for equal and equitable education and opportunities here in North Carolina. After we were finally able to obtain that hard-fought victory through a system that is supposed to be fair and just, defendants are now seeking to snatch that victory from our school children and families. But we will not stand-down,” said Rev. Corinne Mack, branch president of the NC NAACP’s Charlotte-Mecklenburg. “North Carolina is better than the actions of the few who have shown themselves to be biased, conniving and hateful. We will fight against these motions tooth-and-nail and any other efforts to undermine access to an equitable and quality education. Our children and our state deserve no less. We love the children of North Carolina. Love is a word of action and will continue to be the frontline for justice.”
In 1997, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that the state constitution requires the State’s legislative and executive branches to ensure that all North Carolina’s children have the opportunity to receive a “sound, basic education.” In 2004, the NC Supreme Court affirmed a trial court ruling that held the State defendants had violated the students’ fundamental right to a sound basic education. Since then, students and their families have been waiting for the state to meet its obligations. In 2021, the trial court approved the only comprehensive remedial plan presented by the Supreme Court and ordered the State to fund the plan. The November 4th ruling appeared to be the final word on the matter, as the State Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court for enforcing the transfer order to fund the plan. The trial court has a status conference set for March 10, 2023 in Wake County Superior Court at 10:00 a.m.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Ballard Spahr, and Patterson Harkavy LLP represent the plaintiff-intervenors–which includes families, and schoolchildren members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to mobilize the nation’s leading lawyers as agents for change in the Civil Rights Movement. Today, the Lawyers’ Committee uses legal advocacy to achieve racial justice, fighting inside and outside the courts to ensure that Black people and other people of color have the voice, opportunity, and power to make the promises of our democracy real. For more information, please visithttps://lawyerscommittee.org