(CN) – The North Carolina Supreme Court upheld as constitutional a state law that allows school boards to sue county commissions over school funding.
After mediation failed, Beaufort County’s board of education sued its board of commissioners, asserting that the commissioners did not give the board sufficient funds to run the schools.
The school board asked for $12.1 million in operating costs for the 2006-07 school year. The commissioners allocated $9.4 million.
A jury determined that the county commission must provide the school district with $10.2 million. An appeals court affirmed the decision.
The commissioners asked the state Supreme Court to determine whether the statutory framework behind the ruling was constitutional. Justice Martin ruled that it is.
However, Martin remanded the case because the court’s instructions to the jury gave an “impermissive, expansive” definition of the word “needed.”
“The trial court’s instructions invited the jury to step beyond its role of determining necessary funding and intrude upon the County Commission’s constitutional discretion,” Martin wrote.