Inspirational "Leandro at 20" Anniversary Reminds Audience of Constitutional Obligation to Provide Sound Basic Education

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From Left to Right: Melanie Dubis, Howard Lee, Robert Orr

From Left to Right: Melanie Dubis, Howard Lee, Robert Orr

On Friday, October 13, the Center for Civil Rights, Education Law & Policy Society, National Lawyers Guild and Black Law Students Association gathered community members, students and education advocates together for the “Leandro at 20: Two Decades in Pursuit of a Sound Basic Education” Conference. The conference commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Leandro v. State. This case established the fundamental right of all children to an opportunity to “a sound basic education” under the North Carolina Constitution.

The half-day conference included two discussion panels and ten individual speakers, all of whom have played an integral role in education in North Carolina. Featured speakers included June Atkinson, who served as NC Superintendent of Public Instruction from 2004 to 2017; Jack Boger, a former dean and professor emeritus at UNC School of Law; and Ann McColl, CEO of The Innovation Project. The panels and panelists included the following:

One Trial, Three Supreme Court Hearings and 13 Years of Hearings
• The Honorable Robert Orr, former associate justice of the N.C. Supreme Court
• Melanie Dubis, lead counsel for the plaintiff school districts in Leandro
• Howard Lee, former state senator and Chapel Hill mayor

New Challenges in Securing a Sound, Basic Education
• Derek Black, education law and policy professor, University of South Carolina School of Law
• Jen Story, supervising Attorney of Legal Aid’s Advocates for Children’s Services
• Elizabeth Haddix, Staff Attorney, UNC Center for Civil Rights,
• Erika K. Wilson, Reef C. Ivey II Term Professor of Law, UNC School of Law

The first panel talked about the history of the Leandro case. The second panel discussed the future of education in North Carolina and covered a range of new challenges including county commissions’ role in providing a sound basic education, state funding levels, the resource disparities between urban and rural school districts and school discipline. Dr. Atkinson closed the conference with a keynote address that candidly recounted her past experience as a witness in the Leandro case. She also called on North Carolinians to act and support more investment in public schools in order to fulfill the Leandro constitutional obligation.

CCR is grateful to all of the speakers, organizers and attendees who made the conference such a success. Video recordings of the event are posted here.

Catherine Hipps This post was written by Catherine Hipps. Catherine is a third-year law student at UNC. She graduated in 2014 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. Catherine is interested in pursuing a legal career in civil rights.

Posted by Allen K. Buansi on Wed. November 29, 2017 2:17 PM
Categories: Education, Leandro
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