Local News

Future of Year-Round Legal Fight Remains Unclear

Posted April 24, 2007 10:23 p.m. EDT
Updated April 24, 2007 10:53 p.m. EDT

— Twenty-two schools in Wake County remain in limbo as the legal fight to stop a year-round calendar continues.

A judge isn't expected to rule on the future of the plan to convert the schools to year-round schedules until next week. Meanwhile, however, the complicated case has arguments that may stretch beyond when the school year starts.

"I do think the strength of the case is with the (Wake) Board of Education," said Brian Shaw, an attorney who specializes in education law.

Legally, Shaw said, school boards get to set school calendars.

"The courts recognize that the school boards have a real difficult job and they can't keep every parent happy,” he said.

Parents have taken the school board to court before over reassignment plans and lost. However, the group behind the year-round lawsuit said they hope the judge will consider that their argument isn't simply about the calendar.

“It's not so much about wanting neighborhood schools or wanting summer,” said parent Kathleen Brennan. “We feel our right to an equal opportunity is being violated.”

Shaw said the case is unique because year-round schools aren't widespread, which makes a ruling even harder to predict.

“I've not seen anything like it,” Shaw said. “I don't know what Judge [Howard E.] Manning's going to do and I wouldn't try to predict it.”

If Judge Manning doesn't dismiss the case, he could let it go to trial with or without an order to stop the year-round conversions immediately.

Until the ruling, school board members said they’ll forward, but with the sense that they're in a holding pattern.

“The other side made good arguments,” said chair Patti Head. “We have to trust that the judge will be fair and impartial.”

Parents had the option to transfer out of the year-round schools. WRAL was told 100 percent of those who applied were transferred.