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Conservative State Supreme Court Blocks School Funding In Leandro Case

Source: Editorial Staff

Earlier this month, the conservative majority state Supreme Court voted 5-2 to reinstate a lower court’s order blocking Superior Court David Lee’s ruling in November, which ordered the state to fund a school equity plan. 

“Disappointed is an understatement to hear about this decision by 5 on the State Supreme Court to willfully ignore the NC Constitution for our students have their right to funded public schools,” NC Association of Educators President Tamika Walker Kelly tweeted following the ruling. “Prime example of why elections matter.”

In November, the then-Democratic-controlled Supreme Court had voted 4-3 for Lee’s order, which would have increased funding in adherence to the Leandro plan. 

However, Republicans won two seats in the midterm elections, gaining a 5-2 majority on the high court, and giving the GOP the opportunity to roll back steps toward adequate public school funding as recommended by the Leandro plan

The two remaining Democratic judges on the high court dissented following the recent ruling. 

“Today’s order abandons the concepts of respect for precedent, law of the case, stare decisis, and the rule of law all in the name of preventing the State from complying with its constitutional duty to provide a sound basic education to the children of this state,” wrote Judge Anita Earls in the dissent.

The Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan was developed by school funding experts and has been supported by Gov. Roy Cooper and the State Board of Education. 

The plan was crafted as a blueprint to address the state’s neglect to guarantee North Carolina students access to a sound, basic education as designated by the state’s constitution. 

Despite the conservative-leaning high court’s latest decision, Cooper hinted at including fully funding the remedial plan within his budget during last month’s State of the State address

For years, Cooper has advocated for the full implementation of the school funding plan which would make investments toward educators, additional support staff, much-needed school resources, improvements towards child care access, and much more.

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