State News

N.C. education head fights idea of separate schools CEO

Posted July 15, 2009

— A judge said he would rule Friday on whether the state's elected schools superintendent should regain powers lost when Gov. Beverly Perdue named a separate chief executive to oversee North Carolina's public schools.

Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson sued Perdue and the State Board of Education in April, contending that North Carolina voters elected her to the superintendent's post and Perdue's decision to name a CEO for the schools was illegal. She asked the courts to determine the scope of the superintendent's constitutional powers.

June Atkinson in court June Atkinson gets her day in court

"The state board, no matter how well-intentioned they may have been, cannot reduce or eliminate or transfer those powers," Bob Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice who is representing Atkinson, told Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood on Wednesday.

A 1995 law gave the education board flexibility to shape the superintendent's job, and the power of the post since then has depended on who held the job.

In January, Perdue named former Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Bill Harrison to the dual role of chairman of the board and the new position of CEO of the state's schools. She said the move would improve accountability and more clearly define leadership in the state Department of Public Instruction.

With Harrison overseeing daily operations, Atkinson has been relegated to serving as the state's education ambassador.

Orr compared the move to relegating Attorney General Roy Cooper to the job of crime liaison or ambassador.

"The concept of being chief administrative officer means as little or as great as the board chooses," he said. "If they can do this to (Atkinson), they can do it to other Council of State members."

Special Deputy Attorney General Mark Davis argued that the 1995 state law allows the General Assembly to adjust the powers of elected officials. He said that Atkinson should push for a constitutional amendment if she doesn't like the law.

"Her argument is ultimately not what the constitution says, but what she thinks it should be," Davis said.

Atkinson, who oversees four employees compared with the nearly 800 Harrison oversees, said after the court hearing that the voters elected her to do a job, and she intends to carry it out.

"I believe that I need to be integral to the decision-making process to carry out the state board policy," she said. "As it exists today, that is not clear, and that brings me heartburn."

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  • jcrocker60 Jul 15, 2009

    YOU CAN REST ASSURED, BEV WILL NOT SERVE A SECOND TERM!!!!!!!!!!! We the people elected Atkinson and she should keep THE JOB. STOP SPENDING EXCESS AMOUNTS OF MONEY JUST TO SATISFY YOURSELF AND SHOW YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DO WHAT YOU WANT.

  • ++Ajax++ Jul 15, 2009

    Southern wisdom, entitlement mentality??? Exactly! she was elected as superintendent so she is entitled to the position. Bill Harrison wasn't so he isn't entitled to it. geez talk about naivite'

  • nankind Jul 15, 2009

    A call for both Atkinson and Harrison to resign and the hiring of teachers and counselors using the resulting finances. And, we could add up the "saved monies" since we will not be trying this case as well and fill even more positions.

  • lkanzig Jul 15, 2009

    i hope that atkinson wins! it would deffinately be a blow to bevs ego! hers an idea, i dont like how bev is running things,im going to appoint myself govenor. then i can appoint my buddies to all kinds of positions and push the elected officer aside. EVEN BETTER LETS PAY 2 PEOPLE TO DO THE SAME JOB!
    sad thing is, all of them are doing a lousy job!

  • oldfirehorse Jul 15, 2009

    This sure has zipped through the court. Must be getting it out of the way so they can rake in the big bucks for the next couple years in appeals.

  • adotd Jul 15, 2009

    GO JUNE GO!!!

  • rand321 Jul 15, 2009

    Given billions in budget deficits, why are we paying multiple six figures salaries?

    It seems as if the taxpayer is paying twice for the same job.

  • cameragirl Jul 15, 2009

    I think that Atkinson should keep her job as the people's choice and this other guy should step aside. Bev is trying to push her own agenda and not the will of the majority of the people. I wonder how long Bill and Bev go back? He probably helped her get elected in exchange for a great big fat paycheck from State Government. Bev is as crooked as Easley is. She should be impeached!!!

    Bev, you are supposed to be representing the good people of NC and keeping your campaign promises. We don't want higher taxes. Cut programs during this tough time. Corporation are having to do it so why don't you? Guess you think that you can just continue to rape us of our hard earned money. Let's all move to TN or TX where there is no State Income Tax!!

  • southern wisdom Jul 15, 2009

    Typical entitlement mentality on Atkinson's part.

  • gt_football Jul 15, 2009

    Bev, Bev, Bev. This is AMERICA!!! June Atkinson was ELECTED to this position by the PEOPLE! We do not need a CEO or CZAR as your party calls it. Once again just another example government waste!

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