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Friday, March 1, 2024 | Back issues
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Charter Schools Challenge N.C. Funding Rule

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (CN) - North Carolina law unconstitutionally omits charter schools from state funding that would allow them to buy interest in real estate and other capital outlays, as traditional public schools do, a class action claims in Mecklenburg County Court.

The suit, filed on behalf of several charter schools, their students and the students' parents, claims that the funding regime established by the state's General Assembly, denies them access to a funding source that's freely granted to traditional public schools: the state's capital outlay fund.

As a result, the complaint says, state lawmakers have effectively established two, non-uniform public school systems. The plaintiffs seek a court declaration that the laws are discriminatory and unconstitutional, and an order making them eligible for such funding immediately.

Under North Carolina law, the county and local school districts in which charter-school students live can transfer to charter schools two of the three funding sources provided to traditional public schools: an amount of state aid equal to the average per-pupil allocation in the local public schools, and an amount equal to the current expense appropriation to the local public school district for the fiscal year.

But the statutes don't allow counties or local school administrative units to provide charter schools with money from the capital outlay fund, the complaint says.

This means that charter schools can lease property or mobile classroom units for school use, the lawsuit explains, but they can't receive state funds to buy any interest in the property.

"This funding scheme is disparate, discriminatory, unequal and un-uniform," the plaintiffs claim.

In addition to violating the U.S. Constitution, it also violates state laws that hold "people have a right to the privilege of education and it is the duty of the state to guard and maintain that right," the lawsuit states.

Plaintiffs are represented by Robert Orr and Jason Kay of Raleigh, N.C.

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