Judges weigh law moving control over North Carolina schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Judges are taking a new look at whether North Carolina legislators can shift power to the elected state schools superintendent over about $10 billion a year in taxpayer spending and contracts worth tens of millions of dollars.

The three-judge panel hears Thursday from lawyers for the State Board of Education. It wants to block the Republican-led legislature’s boost to new GOP Superintendent Mark Johnson. The state school board wants to keep the status quo while it appeals the panel’s July ruling favoring Johnson.

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Lawyers for the state school board called the proceedings of the special legislative session unconstitutional, saying it reduces the members’ ability to hire and fire senior level staff, manage low-performing schools, and operate several offices within North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction.

Both sides said they spent weeks negotiating a deal that would end the lawsuit, but couldn’t do it.

At stake is part of the state constitution that declares the state school board responsible for administering the public school system that educates 1.5 million children.

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