2014 Report on Project Work - Education and Law

We aggressively and successfully fought against efforts to privatize North Carolina’s public education system in 2014. Along with the NC Association of Educators, the Justice Center’s Education & Law Project filed a lawsuit to stop the implementation of a program to give public tax dollars to private schools. The voucher program offered students no protections and even allowed private schools to discriminate. We secured a ruling in Superior Court that said the program is unconstitutional on multiple counts. The case is set to go before the NC Supreme Court in 2015.

We worked to prevent the creation of virtual charter schools in North Carolina and to raise awareness of the serious academic and financial failings of these schools in other states. K12, Inc., the nation’s largest virtual charter school provider, filed a lawsuit in an effort to force
the State Board of Education to allow the company to open a school in North Carolina in 2014. The Justice Center filed amicus briefs with the trial and appellate courts on the problems associated with virtual charter schools in general and K12’s schools in particular, helping to secure rulings against K12 in both courts.

Unfortunately, the NC General Assembly ordered the State Board of Education to approve two virtual charter schools as part of a pilot program—there were only two applicants, and K12 was one of them. Now the company is making plans to open a virtual school in North Carolina for the coming school year. We will continue to educate the public about K12’s problems, oppose attempts to expand the pilot program, and ensure the State Board of Education holds the company financially and academically accountable.

We received numerous calls from immigrant families whose children were being denied the right to an education because of school registration delays lasting up to six months. In response, we worked with state and national partners to file a Title VI complaint with the US Department of Justice challenging the enrollment and registration process as discriminatory toward immigrant students. We have worked with the NC Department of Public Instruction to create guidance, trainings, and oversight for local school districts in order to streamline the registration process so immigrant children no longer miss vital school days while attempting to register.

Some of North Carolina’s most vulnerable students are those living in private psychiatric treatment facilities (PRTFs). We litigated a case on behalf of a student who did not receive special-education services while at a PRTF, prompting state lawmakers to take action. We were successful in getting legislation passed that provides funding for and oversight of the education of children in PRTFs. In 2015, we will work with other advocacy groups to monitor the PRTFs to ensure they are fulfilling children’s educational rights.

Annual Reports on Education & Law