NC high court says school complaint is moot - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

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.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • WEATHER: Waterspout Spotted Off the Coast of Tybee Island

    WEATHER: Waterspout Spotted Off the Coast of Tybee Island

    Friday, August 1 2014 11:51 AM EDT2014-08-01 15:51:17 GMT
    The National Weather Service confirms that a water spout was spotted off the coast of Tybee Island on Friday morning. The Chatham Count Emergency Management agency says the island did activate its outdoor warning system and cleared the beach.At this time, weather reports do not indicated the waterspout will make landfall, but it is recommended to avoid the beach until the storm has passed.
    The National Weather Service confirms that a water spout was spotted off the coast of Tybee Island on Friday morning. The Chatham Count Emergency Management agency says the island did activate its outdoor warning system and cleared the beach.At this time, weather reports do not indicated the waterspout will make landfall, but it is recommended to avoid the beach until the storm has passed.
  • Screams, panic caught on video as shark charges at swimmers near beach

    Screams, panic caught on video as shark charges at swimmers near beach

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 5:48 PM EDT2014-07-30 21:48:04 GMT
    Facebook image from Dan FlynnFacebook image from Dan Flynn
    A Florida beach cleared out – with the exception of a woman and lifeguard who tried to save her – when a shark was spotted heading straight toward swimmers on Tuesday afternoon. The panic of the 10-foot shark and people screaming from the pier was caught on tape.
    A Florida beach cleared out – with the exception of a woman and lifeguard who tried to save her – when a shark was spotted heading straight toward swimmers on Tuesday afternoon. The panic of the 10-foot shark and people screaming from the pier was caught on tape.
  • Bikini-clad mom of 5 writes viral letter to bullies who mocked her stretch marks

    Bikini-clad mom of 5 writes viral letter to bullies who mocked her stretch marks

    Friday, August 1 2014 4:17 PM EDT2014-08-01 20:17:45 GMT
    Tanis Jex-Blake Facebook page photoTanis Jex-Blake Facebook page photo
    A mother of five who was mocked for her stretch marks while sunbathing at the beach has written an open letter to the trio who bullied her. That letter has now gone viral with more than a million likes and 218,000 shares.
    A mother of five who was mocked for her stretch marks while sunbathing at the beach has written an open letter to the trio who bullied her. That letter has now gone viral with more than a million likes and 218,000 shares.
Powered by WorldNow

1430 East Victory Drive
Savannah, GA 31404

Telephone: 912.651.0300
Fax: 912.651.0320
Email: newsemailalert@wsav.com

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