Blog Posts: Leandro

A Sound Basic Education—Exhibit 1: Student Access to Certified, Well-Trained Teachers in Wayne County Public Schools

The above graph tracks educational outcomes and the use of substitute teachers in Wayne County Public Schools
The above graph tracks educational outcomes and the use of substitute teachers in Wayne County Public Schools' nine middle schools during the 2015-16 school year.

Almost 20 years ago, the North Carolina Supreme Court held in the landmark case of Leandro v. State that every child in our state has a constitutional right to “the opportunity for a sound basic education.” In defining a sound basic education, the Court looked at the educational resources that school districts make available to their students, including access to effective teachers. In the follow-up Leandro II decision, the Court re-emphasized the importance of quality teachers, holding that a sound basic education calls for “every classroom [to] be staffed with a competent, certified, well-trained teacher.”

Student access to certified, well-trained teachers often differs dramatically from school to school however—and far too often depends upon a school’s racial composition. In concluding that racially segregated schools “may fail to provide the full panoply of benefits that K-12 schools can offer,” the U.S. Department of Education’s Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools specifically highlighted that segregated schools struggle to attract effective teachers and often have higher teacher turnover rates.

In the Wayne County Public Schools (WCPS) Central (Goldsboro High) attendance area, the connection between segregation and access to certified, well-trained teachers, is readily apparent. Wayne County serves an overall student population that is 34.9% African American. However, African American students represent between 87.5% and 92.6% of students in all Goldsboro area schools. During the 2014-15 school year, teachers with three years or less of experience accounted for 33.3% of teachers at Goldsboro High and 42.5% of teachers at Dillard Middle, the second- and third-highest percentages of such inexperienced teachers across WCPS. That same year, Central Attendance area schools accounted for three of the four highest teacher turnover rates in the district.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Thu. November 17, 2016 1:32 PM
Categories: Education, Leandro, Segregation

Halifax County School Adequacy Appeal Briefing Completed; Oral Argument to be Scheduled

On Monday, July 18, 2016, the Center for Civil Rights filed its reply brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners, reasserting its fundamental argument that a board of county commissioners—like any government actor or agency—has a constitutional obligation to ensure schoolchildren have the opportunity to secure a sound basic education.

The case was filed by the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren in Halifax. The plaintiffs assert that the county commissioners’ inequitable and inefficient allocation of education resources among, and maintenance of, three racially segregated and low performing school districts in the county violates the right of students to receive a sound basic education as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution (and affirmed by the North Carolina Supreme Court in the Leandro cases). Incredibly, the commissioners insist that while they admittedly have constitutional and statutory obligations to provide critical educational resources, those obligations have no relation to or bearing upon the right to or provision of a constitutionally-complaint education in Halifax County.


Read More... (Halifax County School Adequacy Appeal Briefing Completed; Oral Argument to be Scheduled)
Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. July 20, 2016 4:22 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Plaintiffs File Brief to NC Court of Appeals in Halifax County Leandro Litigation

On Wednesday, May 4, the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of schoolchildren filed their brief to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Silver v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners. The Plaintiffs brought suit against the County last August, seeking to vindicate the constitutional right of all Halifax County schoolchildren to the opportunity for a sound basic education established under the Leandro decision. The Plaintiffs’ appeal comes after the trial court dismissed the lawsuit in early February, holding that the County has no constitutional obligations under Leandro.

In their brief to the Court of Appeals, CEES and the NAACP argue they must be afforded the opportunity to present evidence at trial and prove that the County’s maintenance of its three racially segregated school districts blocks all students’ opportunity to receive a Leandro-compliant education. Leandro II provides that local governments must allocate resources in a manner that provides children the opportunity for a sound basic education.

Legal Aid of North Carolina and the Youth Justice Project of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, on behalf of Public Schools First NC, filed an amicus brief in support of the Appellants’ Leandro claim. The amicus brief highlights Legal Aid of North Carolina’s work with students in Halifax County, and the lack of educational opportunity these students face because of the misallocation of educational resources among the county’s three school districts. Amici note that at-risk students in Halifax’s racially isolated districts suffer inadequate educational programs, poor academic outcomes, and disproportionately high rates of student discipline.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Fri. May 6, 2016 12:20 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Plaintiffs Appeal in Halifax County Leandro Litigation

CEES banner

On February 22, the plaintiffs in Silver et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners announced they are appealing the dismissal of their education equity lawsuit filed last August.  The suit, based on the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantee that every child be provided the opportunity to secure a sound basic education, argued that the county commissioners’ maintenance of three inefficiently funded, racially segregated school districts in Halifax County undermines educational opportunities guaranteed by the constitution and the state supreme court’s landmark Leandro decisions.  Read about the dismissal.


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Posted by Brent J. Ducharme on Wed. February 24, 2016 11:14 AM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Superior Court Dismisses Halifax Leandro Litigation

In a disappointing but not surprising decision, Superior Court Judge W. Russell Duke, Jr. dismissed Silver et al. v. Halifax County Board of Commissioners, the lawsuit filed last August by the Center on behalf of the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardian in Halifax County, NC.
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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Wed. February 3, 2016 3:19 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

Center's Leandro III Brief Asks State to Remedy Constitutional Violations

The UNC Center for Civil Rights filed its brief with the North Carolina Supreme Court in opposition to the State’s most recent appeal in the ongoing Leandro education litigation. The case, which began almost 20 years ago, affirmed the State’s constitutional obligation to provide a sound basic education to North Carolina children. In 2005, the Center intervened in the ongoing case on behalf of parents and children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch of the NAACP, with the support of the North Carolina State Conference and the national NAACP.


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Posted by Jennifer Watson Marsh on Tue. September 3, 2013 12:31 PM
Categories: Amicus Curiae, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Education, Leandro, Race Discrimination

Halifax advocates mark anniversary of Center's report, continue struggle for education equity

Education advocates gather in Halifax, NC to mark the one-year anniversary of the Center's report and the county's renewed struggle for education equity

This summer marked the one-year anniversary of the UNC Center for Civil Rights’ report, “Unless Our Children Begin to Learn Together: The State of Education in Halifax County.” To commemorate this milestone, education advocates in the community held a press conference at the Old Halifax County Courthouse, where the report was first presented, to review what had been accomplished in the year and the challenges that remain to bring high-quality, equitable education to Halifax County.

At the press conference, CEES Vice President Gary Grant, speaking on behalf of the Coalition, called upon county and school elected officials, parents, teachers, and students to continue the struggle for equity: “We bear witness to the fact that the problems of poor and barely mediocre student performance at the three public school systems has not been addressed. Nor has the root cause, the continuing extreme racial segregation among the three school districts in Halifax County. The quality of education has been undermined on a county-wide basis for much too long at too great a cost to too many of our children.”


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Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Mon. September 17, 2012 4:17 PM
Categories: Community Leaders, Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Race Discrimination, Segregation

Court of Appeals affirms statewide PreK services for at-risk students

The NC Court of Appeals affirmed the Superior Court Judge Howard Manning’s July 2011 order barring the State from limiting or denying eligible at-risk four year olds admission to the State’s prekindergarten program. The Court’s ruling reinforces State’s continuing duty to at-risk students across North Carolina, noting that “under Leandro II, the State has a duty to prepare all ‘at-risk’ students to avail themselves of an opportunity to obtain a sound basic education.”

The Center represents the Charlotte-Mecklenburg NAACP in the matter and filed a brief in the appeal. Read the Court’s opinion and the Center’s brief (PDF).


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Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Tue. August 21, 2012 4:45 PM
Categories: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Education, Leandro

Center files brief in Leandro appeal

On April 25, the UNC Center for Civil Rights filed a brief in the latest appeal in the ongoing Leandro litigation, the landmark court case regarding the State's constitutional obligation to provide a sound basic education to North Carolina children that began 18 years ago. Since 2005, the Center has represented parents and children in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Branch of the NAACP, with the support of the North Carolina State Conference and the national NAACP. The current appeal focuses on the State's continuing duty to remedy the constitutional violations that were established in the previous Leandro rulings from the North Carolina Supreme Court.


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Posted by Mark Dorosin on Mon. April 30, 2012 3:41 PM
Categories: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Education, Leandro

The State of Education in Halifax County - A Five-Month Update

The Center began working in Halifax County in 2008 on a range of community inclusion issues.

Lincoln Heights, an excluded community on the outskirts of the City of Roanoke Rapids, worked with the Center to stop the City from locating a solid waste transfer station in their neighborhood, which has been the site of several previous municipal waste facilities. The community’s engagement and advocacy also helped bring public attention to other exclusion based impacts issues affecting Lincoln Heights, including denial of access to municipal services and electoral power in local government.

As we continued to work with communities across the county on a range of issues, one theme consistently emerged among residents throughout Halifax County: "Something is very wrong with the schools in this county."


Read More... (The State of Education in Halifax County - A Five-Month Update)
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Sat. October 22, 2011 8:10 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation

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