RALEIGH (October 26, 2023) – The North Carolina Justice Center is deeply disturbed by the North Carolina Supreme Court’s recent decision to disregard precedent and rehear the Court’s landmark decision in Leandro IV by considering arguments that were clearly decided by the same Court less than one year ago. Nothing about this case has changed factually or procedurally in this short period of time to justify such a hearing. The decision to rehear this case is procedurally inappropriate and would cause irreparable harm to the integrity of our state’s judicial system as well as our public schools.
As Justice Earls stated in her dissent, “This Court resolved the question of subject-matter jurisdiction in Leandro IV… In that case—just 11 months old—the Legislative-Intervenors raised the same arguments they do in their bypass petition: That the trial court lacked jurisdiction to remedy constitutional deficiencies in public education. We examined that claim and ‘unequivocally rejected’ it.”
Even more important, these recent attempts are part of a pattern of obstruction and denial of the resources needed to uphold the constitutional right to educational opportunities for our state’s children. This pattern has persisted for almost three decades and has been accelerated by the State’s most recent, woefully inadequate education budget.
The only thing that has changed in the intervening year is that the challenges facing our schools, communities, and children have continued to grow. The investments and policies outlined in the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan released in 2021 are desperately needed given the extraordinary challenges our schools face. Following decades of underinvestment, the impact of the pandemic on educational outcomes and burgeoning mental health needs, teacher and staffing shortages in all districts across the state, and a mounting crisis in our early childhood systems, our education system is truly in crisis. North Carolina’s public schools desperately need the constitutionally required resources owed to them.
We respectfully urge the Court to follow its own precedent and provide relief to North Carolina’s children. Time is of the essence.