NC high court says school complaint is moot - WRBL

NC high court says school complaint is moot

Posted: Updated:
RALEIGH, N.C. -

North Carolina's Supreme Court said Friday an appeal of a complaint involving changes to a pre-kindergarten program for needy children is moot because lawmakers have fixed the problem.
    
It's the latest chapter in a 19-year-old dispute brought by poor school districts in Hoke, Halifax, Robeson, Cumberland and Vance counties.
    
The state Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the constitutional right to a sound, basic education includes helping young children who are at risk of falling behind their peers. Then-Gov. Mike Easley and legislative leaders committed to a program of pre-kindergarten services then named More at Four and told the court it would be gradually expanded to enroll 40,000 4-year-olds statewide at a cost of about $160 million.
    
But in 2011, new Republican majorities in the General Assembly effectively limited the program they renamed North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten by restricting the number of slots for at-risk 4-year-olds and cutting funding by 20 percent.
    
NC Pre-K enrolled about 25,000 children in 2012, down from a peak of about 35,000 in 2010. A September 2012 survey found that nearly 12,000 children were waiting for Pre-K services.
    
Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr., selected by the Supreme Court to oversee compliance with its earlier school-funding decisions, ruled in 2011 that state officials could not create barriers that would deny an eligible child admission where a program exists. Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper, representing the General Assembly, appealed.
    
But while the case was pending, state lawmakers in 2012 "amended the challenged statutory provisions" and that "rendered this controversy moot," the Supreme Court said.
    
"We conclude that the questions originally in controversy between the parties are no longer at issue... We express no opinion on the legislation now in effect because questions of its constitutionality are not before us," the ruling said.
    
Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, praised the ruling.
    
"Today's Supreme Court decision is a clear affirmation of the General Assembly's central role in shaping education policy - and the size and scope of North Carolina's pre-K program. The court's ruling ensures the pre-K program will move forward as the legislature intended - with eight out of 10 pre-K slots serving children who are financially 'at risk,'" he said.
    
Melanie Black Dubis, an attorney for the poor school districts, said she was surprised by the quick ruling, which came less than four weeks after oral arguments.
    
She pointed to Friday's affirmation in the six-page ruling by the justices of the court's two previous school funding rulings. The second ruling in 2004 affirmed the constitutional right for every child to receive the opportunity for a sound, basic education, especially young children at-risk of falling behind.
    
With Friday's ruling, which had no dissenting opinions, "that mandate is still in full force and effect," Dubis said.
    
She added the dismissal of the state's appeal is just a recognition by the justices that during the appeal "the state recognized its unconstitutional conduct and reversed its unconstitutional conduct."
    
Rob Thompson, executive director of Covenant with NC's Children, said the ruling was disappointing, and that General Assembly still has a responsibility to invest in early education.
    
"While the court's decision is disappointing, it doesn't absolve legislators from their responsibility to do what's best for the state and invest in the education of young children. We know that early education works and we know that NC Pre-k works," he said.

  • North Carolina NewsMore>>

  • Another trial delay for former NC lawmaker

    Another trial delay for former NC lawmaker

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:59 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:59:45 GMT
    Rep. Stephen LaRoque was convicted on 10 counts involving theft from a non-profit receiving federal funds, money laundering and making false statements.Rep. Stephen LaRoque was convicted on 10 counts involving theft from a non-profit receiving federal funds, money laundering and making false statements.
    The new trial for former North Carolina Rep. Stephen LaRoque has been delayed again.
    The new trial for former North Carolina Rep. Stephen LaRoque has been delayed again.
  • NC Senate passes Medicaid reform legislation

    NC Senate passes Medicaid reform legislation

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:44 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:44:49 GMT
    The North Carolina Senate has given tentative approval to a bill that changes how Medicaid is administered and paid for in the state.
    The North Carolina Senate has given tentative approval to a bill that changes how Medicaid is administered and paid for in the state.
  • GOP-backed bill includes laundry list of changes

    GOP-backed bill includes laundry list of changes

    Thursday, July 24 2014 3:35 PM EDT2014-07-24 19:35:22 GMT
    File PhotoFile Photo
    An omnibus bill backed by Republican leaders in the North Carolina House is seeking to make dozens of changes to state laws.
    An omnibus bill backed by Republican leaders in the North Carolina House is seeking to make dozens of changes to state laws.
  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • 77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    77-year-old questioned, defended as true Marine after NFL player takes his photo

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:58 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:58:35 GMT
    (WMC) - It was a story that made its rounds on social media. On a recent flight DeAngelo Williams, Mid-Southerner and running back for the Carolina Panthers, gave his first-class plane seat to a 77-year-old
    Family members are upset and hurt that their relative, James Wesley Bolden, is being called a liar and "a fake."
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • UNC professor robbed, beaten to death in Chapel Hill

    UNC professor robbed, beaten to death in Chapel Hill

    Thursday, July 24 2014 2:38 PM EDT2014-07-24 18:38:46 GMT
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
    A UNC research professor was robbed and beaten to death Wednesday afternoon on University Drive in Chapel Hill, police said.
Powered by WorldNow

1350 13th Avenue
Columbus, GA 31901

Telephone: 706.323.3333
Fax: 706.327.6655
Email: news@wrbl.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.