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NC's highest court again weighs in on school funding case

judge's gavel
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North Carolina’s highest court is considering whether it was within a trial judge’s power to unilaterally order taxpayer money be sent to government agencies to address stubborn educational inequities.

The state Supreme Court scheduled oral arguments on Wednesday in another chapter of a decades-long legal struggle over public education spending and a constitutional requirement to ensure access to sound schooling for all.

A judge last year said it was proper that he move the money to carry out portions of a multibillion-dollar education remedial plan. Superior Court Judge David Lee cited in part the failure of legislators and governors to provide fully for children the “opportunity for a sound basic education." That language stems from previous Supreme Court rulings in the “Leandro” litigation -- named for a plaintiff in the original 1994 lawsuit.

Republican legislators say Lee got it wrong because only the General Assembly has constitutional authority to appropriate funds.

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