Leandro II – Hoke County Bd. of Educ. v. State

599 S.E.2d 365 (N.C. 2004)

 

Background

Following the North Carolina Supreme Court's ruling in Leandro v. State, 448 S.E.2d 249, the Court handed the Leandro case over to Superior Court Judge Howard Manning. He was directed to conduct a trial to determine whether the State of North Carolina had, in fact, failed to provide all children with the equal opportunity for a sound basic education. If so, then Judge Manning was empowered to rule upon the remedies needed to ensure each child's Leandro right.

Judge Manning issued a series of four detailed decisions, culminating with his Final Ruling in April of 2002. He found that there are many children who are not receiving a sound basic education - and thus, children whose Leandro rights are being violated. He ruled that the State of North Carolina is not meeting its constitutional obligations to all children. Judge Manning concluded that: (1) every child is entitled to have a competent teacher; (2) every school must have a competent principal; and, (3) every school district must have the resources necessary to adequately support these students, teachers and principals.
The State of North Carolina appealed Judge Manning's ruling and the case ended up back in front of the N.C. Supreme Court.

Holding

In July of 2004, the Justices once again unanimously affirmed every child's Leandro right to the "equal opportunity to receive a sound basic education". In fact, they were even more explicit about the fact that all North Carolina children - not just those currently enrolled in public schools - have an equal Leandro right. For example, the Court ruled that the "infant Zoe and the toddler Riley" have the same state constitutional rights as an at-risk high school student.

The Justices upheld nearly all of Judge Manning's rulings and handed the case back to him. Judge Manning's charge now is to ensure that the State implements remedies that bring the State's education system into compliance with the Constitution.