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Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education

About the Commission

The landmark Leandro ruling reaffirmed North Carolina’s constitutional duty to ensure all children have the opportunity to receive a sound basic education.  The ruling requires North Carolina to identify specific resources needed to ensure that all children, including those who are at-risk or from rural and underserved communities, have access to a sound basic education.  Since the court issued the Leandro ruling in 1996 and the subsequent Hoke County Board of Education ruling in 2004, North Carolina has struggled to live up to this constitutional requirement.

Governor Cooper’s Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education, created by Executive Order 10 in July 2017, is taking a comprehensive, inter-disciplinary approach to tackling the three key areas highlighted in the original Leandro ruling to ensure North Carolina is meeting its constitutional duty:

  • Staffing each classroom with a competent, well-trained teacher;
  • Staffing each school with a competent, well-trained principal; and
  • Identifying the resources necessary to ensure that all children, including those at-risk, have an equal opportunity to obtain a sound, basic education.

The Commission includes 19 members appointed by the Governor from education (from early childhood through higher education), business, government, law, health care, psychology and counseling, and public safety.  The Commission will work in conjunction with WestEd, a consultant jointly nominated by the Leandro parties and appointed by Judge David Lee, to develop recommendations for what the state needs to do to meet its constitutional obligations. 

Commission Members



Name Title Organization
Dr. Fouad Abd-El-Khalick Dean, School of Education UNC Chapel-Hill
Hon. Charles Becton Retired Judge NC Court of Appeals
Ms. Melody Chalmers Principal E.E. Smith High School, Cumberland County Schools
Mr. Jim Deal Attorney at Law Deal, Moseley & Smith, LLP
Mr. Alan Duncan Former Chairman Board of Education, Guilford County Schools
Hon. Rick Glazier Executive Director North Carolina Justice Center 
Mr. Mark Jewell President  North Carolina Association of Educators
Ms. Leigh Kokenes School Psychologist  Wake County Public Schools
Dr. Helen "Sunny" Ladd Susan B. King Professor Emeritus of Public Policy Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
Dr. Patrick Miller Superintendent Greene County Schools
Mr. James Moore Police Chief City of Rocky Mount 
Mr. Mark Richardson Commissioner Rockingham County Board of Commissioners
Mr. Nick Sojka School Board Attorney Cumberland County Schools
Mr. Fernando Solano Valverde ESL Kindergarten Teacher South Lexington School, Lexington City Schools
Mr. Michael Williams Director Turning Point Workforce Development Board
Dr. Stelfanie Williams Vice President for Durham Affairs Duke University
Mr. Brad Wilson (Chair) Former CEO Blue Cross and Blue Shield of NC
Hon. Leslie Winner Former Executive Director Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
Ms. Henrietta Zalkind Executive Director Downeast Partnership for Children