Today, the Commission on Access to Sound Basic Education adopted a resolution urging “all state bodies, entities, and agencies to take all necessary actions” to implement the Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan. The plan outlines the actions the State must take to meet its constitutional obligation under the Leandro court rulings of ensuring every student has access to a sound basic education. The Commission met virtually to discuss updates on the implementation of the plan.
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use our state’s resources to truly transform and strengthen our public schools,” said Governor Cooper, who provided remarks to the Commission on Tuesday. “Our state has the resources to live up to our constitutional obligation to our children and now is the time to do it.”
“For the first time in our history, North Carolina has a truly comprehensive, research-based plan for how we can ensure all students have access to a sound basic education,” said Brad Wilson, Chair of the Commission. “It is both a constitutional and a moral imperative that our state ensures that the Comprehensive Remedial Plan is fully implemented and that we allocate the resources necessary to get that done.”
The Comprehensive Remedial Plan is the latest development in the decades-long case. Upon taking office in 2017, Governor Cooper joined together with the plaintiffs in the case to work collaboratively on a plan for ensuring the state is able to meet its constitutional obligations. The Governor’s appointment of the Commission and the court appointment of an outside consultant, WestEd, were actions that Governor Cooper and the plaintiffs agreed to pursue. The Comprehensive Remedial Plan is based on the recommendations from the Commission and from WestEd.
The plan was submitted to the Court on March 15, 2021. Judge David Lee, who is overseeing the long-running Leandro lawsuit, issued an order on June 7, 2021 that the State and State Board of Education implement the plan fully and within the timelines set out in the plan.
Governor Cooper has committed to pursuing the policy and programmatic changes outlined in the plan and to providing the resources necessary to achieve the actions in the plan. The Governor’s budget proposal, which he released in March, fully funds the actions in the plan over the next two years.
Leandro is a landmark ruling in North Carolina courts that requires the state to identify specific resources needed to ensure that all children, including those who are at risk or from rural and underserved communities, have an opportunity to receive a sound basic education. Since the Supreme Court issued that ruling in 1997 and the subsequent Hoke County Board of Education ruling in 2004, North Carolina has struggled to live up to those requirements.