North Carolina Court Re-asserts Order to Provide Free Pre-K Program

in NEWS FROM THE ACCESS NETWORK, North Carolina

The State’s motion to clarify Judge Howard Manning’s July 18 order that the State of North Carolina cannot deny “at-risk” students access to its prekindergarten program, was denied by the judge on September 2, 2011. Hoke County Board of Education v. North Carolina, September 2, 2011. Judge Manning further held that the state of North Carolina must provide each child an equal opportunity to obtain a sound basic education and must provide “at-risk” prospective four-year-olds “sufficient” prekindergarten services.

Following the original July 18 order, Democratic Governor Beverly Perdue issued Executive Order 100 directing the Department of Health and Human Services to work with North Carolina’s education agencies to comply with the court order.  In addition, the governor prohibited any state programs from imposing a co-pay requirement that may prevent eligible at-risk four-year-olds from joining the program.

Republican legislators claimed that the judge misinterpreted the legislative intent and filed the motion to clarify his ruling. After considering their claims, Judge Manning held that the two legislative leaders’ interpretation of the legislative intent was inconsistent with the wording of the statute and that, in any event, the court may not consider statements made by members of the legislature, under oath or otherwise, as  evidence of the intent of the body as a whole. Accordingly, the judge denied their motion for clarification, as well as their motion to intervene. The State has now appealed Judge Manning’s ruling.

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