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NCSBA, 20 School Districts Renew Lawsuit

scales of justice Twenty school districts have joined the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) in renewing a lawsuit against the state for failure to provide local schools with roughly $730 million in fine and forfeiture collections as required by the N.C. Constitution.

A 2008 court decision said the state owed the public schools almost $750 million in civil penalties collected by state agencies. Since the decision, the state’s public schools have only received about $18 million as part of the court-mandated repayment.

At issue is the time period between 1996 and 2005, when the state withheld fine and forfeiture collections that the courts later said was owed to the state’s public schools under the state constitution. While schools have been receiving that funding since then, school districts, in efforts led by NCSBA, are still trying to collect on money owed prior to 2005.

The ruling in the original lawsuit seeking this repayment was only valid for 10 years, so a new filing was necessary to keep the issue alive, according to media comments from attorneys representing NCSBA and the plaintiff school districts.

Districts joining NCSBA in filing the renewal of the lawsuit include: Buncombe, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Cumberland, Durham, Edgecombe, Elizabeth City/Pasquotank, Guilford, Halifax, Henderson, Iredell-Statesville, Johnston, Lenoir, New Hanover, Orange, Pitt, Robeson, Watauga, Winston-Salem/Forsyth, and Wake.

The new lawsuit was filed Aug. 1 and announced that day at a press conference at George Watts Montessori Magnet School in Durham, where NCSBA President Minnie Forte-Brown, a school board member for Durham Public Schools, spoke on the importance of the state’s repayment to support schools across the state. View media coverage of that event and see the court filing here.