The North Carolina Justice Center, with support from Every Child NC, filed a motion to submit an amicus brief (friend of the court brief) in support of the plaintiffs in the Leandro Case set to be heard by the NC Supreme Court in August. An additional 144 organizations signed on in support.
The brief provides extensive documentation of how North Carolina has not met its constitutional requirements as established by the courts in 2004 and that the educational conditions in the state have actually worsened since then.
If you are interested in a clear, research-supported case for why the remedies listed in the Leandro plan are essential now more than ever, read the full brief.
It is time for the courts to ensure that the State meets its constitutional obligations to provide a sound basic education to every child.
Background: In 1994, school districts and families (one named Leandro) in five low-wealth counties sued the state, claiming that their students were not receiving the same level of educational opportunities as students in higher wealth districts. The NC Supreme Court agreed in 1997, stating that the NC Constitution guarantees every child “an opportunity to receive a sound basic education” and that NC was not meeting that standard.
In 2002 the NC Superior Court went further and defined a “sound basic education” as one in which there is a high-quality teacher in every classroom, a well-prepared and competent principal in every school, and adequate resources.
Since then, NC has continued to fall short of its obligations. As the brief states, “Since 2004, the children of North Carolina have grown up in an unconstitutional education system.” The brief documents these shortcomings in detail, with numerous references. Our fact sheets and newsletters (e.g. NC Teacher Pipeline, Education in the Budget, Social Workers Needed Now More Than Ever) address many of the same issues.
In 2020 a Superior Court judge ordered the state to develop a plan to address the ongoing issue of constitutional neglect. In 2021 both plaintiffs and defendants (school boards and state) agreed to and submitted to the NC Superior Court a Comprehensive Remedial Plan (commonly called the Leandro Plan) to address the problems with the NC education system and provide all NC students with a sound basic education. The Leandro Plan contains detailed recommendations and budget requirements. It provides a benchmark for comparing the General Assembly’s budget allocations for education to the minimum required to meet the Leandro Plan provisions.
A key point in the brief is that when one of the political branches repeatedly fails to meet its constitutional obligations (i.e. the NC General Assembly) the court has a responsibility under the NC Constitution to affirm that it must meet its constitutional obligations. In other words, the NC General Assembly cannot continue to defy the court’s orders to fulfill the obligations of the Leandro Plan. Again, on November 10, 2021, the NC Trial Court ruled that the provisions of the Leandro Plan were a needed constitutional mechanism to address NC’s years-long violation of constitutional rights. And yet again, with the 2021-23 budget and the new 2022-23 budget (passed this month), the NC General Assembly continues to fall short.
Use this toolbox to find out exactly how much each county would gain if the Leandro Plan were fully funded.