Local News

Judge Says State Moving Too Slow In Helping Poor Schools

Posted March 7, 2005 4:34 a.m. EST

— A Wake County Superior Court judge says the state is not moving fast enough to meet his court order to help poor schools.

Public schools in poor parts of North Carolina have been accused in the decade-old "Leandro" lawsuit of providing a substandard education for their students. Judge Howard Manning ruled in 2002 that all North Carolina students have the right to a "sound basic education."

Manning told an attorney for the state during a hearing Monday that not enough progress has been made.

"I'm getting sick and tired of this shell game about 'We'll go forward with this,' and then we have a new legal theory today that I don't have to do anything. I'm getting sick of this," Manning said.

Attorney Thomas Ziko said local school districts do not have the money and the state is trying to find some.

Ziko also told Manning that any state plan now would be speculative because the General Assembly is still working on the next state budget. That did not please Manning, who said state officials sound like they're stalling.

Manning also heard testimony from school leaders who said they have found unique ways to make high schools work for at-risk students.

"Indeed, our high schools must do a better job and in order to do that, they have to change. We can't keep doing what we've been doing and expect to get different results," said Ann Denlinger, superintendent for Durham Schools.

The hearings will continue throughout the week.