by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
Carolina Journal reports on a ruling from North Carolina’s Supreme Court that could have far-reaching impacts.
A unanimous N.C. Supreme Court has ruled that public school students can sue their school board for ignoring harassment from other students that blocks their access to a sound basic education.
Chief Justice Paul Newby wrote the 16-page opinion. It allows a family with three students to proceed with a lawsuit against the Pitt County school board and the State Board of Education. Two of the students are autistic. The suit contends that school officials’ indifference to ongoing harassment of the students violated their constitutional rights.
The Supreme Court’s ruling reverses the state Appeals Court’s 2-1 decision in the case. The Appeals Court would have blocked the lawsuit from moving forward.
“Where a government entity with control over the school is deliberately indifferent to ongoing harassment that prevents a student from accessing his constitutionally guaranteed right to a sound basic education, the student has a colorable claim under the North Carolina Constitution,” Newby wrote.
A colorable claim “must present facts sufficient to support an alleged violation of a right protected by the State Constitution,” the chief justice explained.
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