Leandro Hailed as Landmark Decision
What does real estate have to do with education? The simple answer in North Carolina is location.
Embrace the Challenge: the Right Thing to Do
The state’s formula for funding public education depends in part on the revenues that school districts receive from local real estate taxes, putting low-wealth districts at a financial disadvantage. In 1994, Parker Poe was tapped by officials from six of the state’s poorest school systems to remedy the situation. In a move that gained national attention, Parker Poe attorneys embraced the challenge and pursued the idea of a quality education for all students. Leandro v. State of North Carolina became a national focal point for taxpayers and officials who would soon face similar challenges.
Leandro, named after then Hoke County high school student Robb Leandro, spanned more than a decade of trials, amendments and appeals. Eventually, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled the state was responsible for providing a sound basic education to all schoolchildren, including at-risk students.
Results: Funding Equality
The tangible results of Leandro were soon visible: initially, low-wealth school districts received about $100 million more funding as a result of the ruling.
“Leandro is a significant economic development issue for our state, one with great significance for the business community. More importantly, providing a sound basic education is the right thing to do for our children.”
- Parker Poe attorney Robert Spearman
Judicial compliance safeguards were put in place to ensure all students, no matter where they live, have equal access to a basic education. The remedy phase of the case still lingers, but the state increased funding to low wealth and at-risk students and created the Disadvantaged Student Supplemental Fund (DSSF) which focuses on:
- Increased salaries and bonuses to attract better teachers and principals
- Lower class size in early grades
- Reading and tutoring programs
- Tracking standardized test scores, drop-out and graduation rates and the percentage of students moving on to higher education.