The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday August 13th

NC judge temporarily blocks changes to public school oversight

A judge temporarily blocked the implementation of a North Carolina law which transfers power away from the State Board of Education and governor — originally set to take effect Jan. 1.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens granted a temporary restraining order that prevents the law from taking effect pending a hearing on Jan. 6.

The change in power, a part of House Bill 17, was a product of the surprise special sessions in the N.C. General Assembly in December. It authorizes the Superintendent of Public Instruction to oversee the funding and support of the free public school system, a duty which largely had been under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Education.

The board, whose chairman is Republican William Cobey, filed a suit claiming the law violates the North Carolina Constitution. The plaintiffs particularly drew attention to Article IX, Section 5, which outlines the board's supervising duties.

“On December 16, 2016, for the first time in the Board’s 148-year history, the General Assembly attempted to transfer these powers and duties from the Board to a single individual: the (Superintendent of Public Instruction),” said the request for injunctive relief filed by Board.

Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, defended the December law and criticized the board's suit.

"It is incredibly disappointing that an appointed board would divert tax dollars meant for our students and teachers into a lawsuit that re-litigates a court case they've already lost once before," he said in a statement. 

The law’s passage comes before the arrival of Superintendent-elect Mark Johnson, who unseated three-term superintendent June Atkinson in November.

Many board members are also expected to be replaced, with the official start of Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s administration on Jan 1.

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