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North Carolina: State Board May Sue to Block Loss of Its Authority

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The Republican chair of the North Carolina State Board of Education said that the legislature’s act to hand its powers over to the newly elected state superintendent was probably unconstitutional. The state board is deciding whether to sue. Apparently some conservatives were angry because the state board turned down some charter applications. But the state board chair Bill Corey said they were just doing their job and protecting public money.


The decision to strip the state board of  most of its powers was a quickie proposal, enacted without deliberations or hearings, as part of the Republicans’ strategy of taking away the powers of the newly elected Democratic governor.


“I don’t want to pass judgment on the governor,” said Cobey, a Republican appointee of McCrory. “But it’s still unconstitutional in my opinion.”


Cobey is one of at least two Republican appointees on the state’s leading public school board to take issue with the GOP-led House Bill 17, which not only impacts Cooper but wrests powers from the State Board of Education and hands them over to incoming N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson.


The sweeping legislation was filed and speedily approved with little public vetting in a surprise special session of the legislature last week, called shortly after lawmakers wrapped work on a hurricane relief bill.
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Meanwhile, the new superintendent of the state’s schools, a 33-year-old lawyer who had two years in the classroom as a TFA recruit, said he supported the controversial bill that gave him many of the powers of the state board, including the power to approve new charters and control of the new “achievement school district,” modeled on the one that failed in Tennessee.


The state board plans to meet again to review its options.

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