State News

Judges delay law shifting schools control in NC

Posted September 14, 2017 1:19 p.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2017 4:37 p.m. EDT

Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson and State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey

— Control over about $10 billion a year in taxpayer spending and the jobs of some North Carolina education workers won't change after three judges agreed to delay a new state law.

A three-judge panel on Thursday gave lawyers for the State Board of Education another 30 days to tell an appeals court that shifting power to the elected state schools superintendent is unconstitutional and the law should be scrapped. The Republican-majority school board wants to keep the status quo and its upper hand over new GOP Superintendent Mark Johnson.

In a statement Thursday, State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey said the board is "pleased the court has blocked this law for another month to allow the appellate courts to consider the case."

Johnson's lawyer says it's time for the elected superintendent to be in the driver's seat of the public school system that educates 1.5 million children statewide.

The Republican-led legislature boosted Johnson's powers weeks after he was elected last November.

Johnson released his own statement, saying he was "disappointed by the court’s ruling" Thursday.

"Chairman Cobey and Vice Chair Collins are vigorously defending the status quo for our education system at the expense of students, educators, and taxpayers," Johnson said. "I am confident I will eventually be able to lead the positive transformation for our schools that the people of North Carolina voted for over 10 months ago."

Both sides said they spent weeks trying to negotiate a deal to end the lawsuit, but couldn't do it.