Filing says North Carolina has failed some students - WNCN: News, Weather

Filing says North Carolina has failed some students

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Judge Howard Manning Judge Howard Manning
RALEIGH, N.C. - Attorneys for five North Carolina school districts said their students are being let down by the state when it comes to educational funding.

The attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the Leandro case said the state is not holding up its commitment to its students following the 1997 ruling by Wake County judge Howard Manning and asked for a hearing in August.

They filed a 22-page motion with the state April 29. In the motion, they asset the state has “failed to comply with this Court’s prior orders.”

“Today, almost 800,000 school children – 56 percent of all public school children – are at risk of academic failure,” claims the complaint.

The Leandro case involved a lawsuit filed by parents, children and school districts in five rural counties against the state of North Carolina. Those counties -- Hoke, Halifax, Robeson, Vance and Cumberland -- said despite higher than average tax rates in their counties, the schools in these districts received lower than average tax revenues.

The lower revenues denied the districts an ability to provide an equal education for its students.

The ruling in the case stated counties or districts had no constitutional right to equal funding but students have the fundamental right to an equal education.

The April 29 filing says North Carolina has had “12 years to develop a remedial plan that would move the State closer to satisfying these fundamental constitutional requirements. Plaintiffs submit that the State Defendants have failed to do so.”

The filing says North Carolina has made some “meritorious initiatives,” but many have been dropped or curtailed since 2008.

Attorney for the plaintiffs Melanie Dubis of Raleigh said at-risk children require additional resources to be able to take advantage of the opportunity for a basic education.

Rep. Paul Stam said it isn’t always about money.

“It's not a question of how much money you spend, but more a question of how you spend it,” Stam said.

He said some of the counties that spend the most per child produce the worst effects.

Education will be the top budget item for the state, Stam said.

But Dubis said the state is failing its students and her clients want leaders to go before a judge to explain why.

“It is about the students and providing a sound, basic education to all children,” Dubis said.

Manning, the judge in the case, has monitored school progress related to the Leandro case and has written that too many students are not getting an equal education.

Manning said the state cannot “cut and run” by reducing standards.

In a statement, N.C. Senate leader Phil Berger said, “There is agreement among Senate Republicans and the Leandro court that North Carolina public schools are failing the children covered by this litigation.

"I am pleased the court’s report recognizes the need for the accountability and standards provided by programs like Read to Achieve to ensure every child in North Carolina can read. I intend to push for full funding of Read to Achieve in the state budget.”

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