Raleigh, NC – Nearly 30 years ago, Parker Poe began representing public school students in their fight to ensure that all families have access to a sound education in North Carolina. On Friday, the North Carolina Supreme Court weighed in for the third time on that fight, granting the latest victory to children in the state’s public schools.
“The Supreme Court’s ruling will be transformative for children across North Carolina, especially at-risk children,” said Raleigh partner Melanie Dubis, lead counsel for the plaintiff school districts. “It also affirms the judiciary’s role as a coequal and independent branch of government that does much more than make ‘unenforceable suggestions,’ as the majority opinion noted. We at Parker Poe share the court’s resolve in continuing to move the Comprehensive Remedial Plan forward for the benefit of our clients, our state, and its children.”
The late Robert Spearman began Parker Poe’s efforts in 1994, bringing a case on behalf of students and families from five rural counties, including an eighth grader named Robb Leandro. Over the next decade, the Leandro case made it to the state Supreme Court twice. The justices established a state constitutional right to a sound basic education and determined that North Carolina was failing to uphold that right.
In the years since, Melanie, Bob, and their team at Parker Poe have navigated the case through North Carolina’s steps forward and backward in meeting that right, including an agreement by all the parties last year on a Comprehensive Remedial Plan. The state’s lack of progress toward that plan led the case back to the state Supreme Court this year.
Writing for the majority, Supreme Court Associate Justice Robin Hudson concluded “the State has proven—for an entire generation—either unable or unwilling to fulfill its constitutional duty.” The court ordered the state to follow, and fund, the Comprehensive Remedial Plan.
In addition to Melanie and Bob, the team at Parker Poe representing the public school districts has included partner Scott Bayzle, associate Catherine Clodfelter, law clerk Alexandria Hill, paralegal Kathy Thompson, and legal professional assistants Dominca Cobb and Janata Sims.
About Parker Poe
Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein LLP has more than 275 lawyers in eight offices in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Washington, DC. The firm provides legal counsel to many of the largest companies and local governments in the Southeast.
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