Beaufort County Case Settled In NC Supreme Court

A Beaufort County case that prompted the North Carolina Supreme Court to require an explanation from educators who deny long-term suspended students a chance at alternative school options has been settled, attorneys said Friday.

The case filed by two Beaufort County families had been headed back to Superior Court where school leaders were expected to state their reasons for barring students suspended in January 2008 from attending the county's alternative-school program.

Revondia Harvey-Barrow, mother of plaintiff Viktoria King, said the families were pleased with the Supreme Court's decision and did not feel a need to pursue the case further.

"The most significant part of this case is that schools no longer have the right or power to suspend a child without giving them an alternative education and then offer no reason for doing so," Harvey-Barrow said.

"We felt in this case the school's decision was arbitrary and capricious. Thanks to the court's decision, that cannot happen to another child."

Lewis Pitts, attorney for the families of King and Jessica Hardy, said he sent a letter to court officials Friday dropping the suit against the Beaufort County Board of Education.

Trey Allen, attorney for the Beaufort County School Board, said the plaintiffs will receive $7,000 from the North Carolina School Boards Trust.

"We decided to settle the case to avoid the cost of continued litigation," Allen said. "The board continues to believe it acted lawfully and appropriately."

The Supreme Court's October 2010 decision focused on whether students had a constitutional or state statutory right to an education, even while suspended 10 days or more for infractions.

The court ruled that school systems must consider alternative educational options for long-term suspended students and apply the state constitutional standard of "intermediate scrutiny" to any cases where an alternative is not to be offered.

"School administrators must articulate an important or significant reason for denying students access to alternative education," according to the 2010 decision.

The justices stopped short of requiring "strict scrutiny" in such cases, saying the heavier burden of justification could disrupt the application of school discipline policies.

The case arose from an incident at Southside High School on Jan. 18, 2008, when several fights broke out as students were dismissed for the day. Sophomores King and Hardy were among 15 students suspended for the remainder of the school year.

Harvey-Barrow said 10 of those students were later reassigned to the county's alternative school, while five others, including King and Hardy, were prevented from attending classes at either campus.


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  • by concerned Location: washington, nc on May 13, 2011 at 08:22 AM
    I have had a great deal of exposure to the students in Beaufort's alternative school and i can say you are completely wrong. The students that attend are just like anywhere else. Unfortunately their circumstances are not. I take offense to your statement. I can speak specifically to those students and they are a wonderful bunch. With that attitude, I am happy to see you are not working there any longer. Sincerely.
  • by Rodney Location: Jamesville on May 9, 2011 at 10:59 AM
    I used to work at Beaufort County's Alternative School. While kids at the regular school are pretty bad, the ones at the Alternative School were pretty much criminals in waiting. Their parents were even worse. It is not enouraging to see the courts siding with these kind of people. Judges need an education in the education system. I've had mine and I'm glad to be out of it.
  • by Anonymous on May 9, 2011 at 10:04 AM
    Just another stupid decision made by a bunch of stupid people in our judicial system.
  • by nightrain Location: Greenville on May 9, 2011 at 09:21 AM
    This could work out fine for the rest of the obedient students. Every parent of a child who is well behaved but has an average grade should now sue the school system for denying their child the right to fully benefit from their educational experience. Based on the fact that they are required to deal with unruly and disruptive classmates.
  • by Granny Location: greenville on May 9, 2011 at 09:20 AM
    I do not think the tax payers should have to pay to educate any child. You have them, you pay for them!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 9, 2011 at 01:58 PM in reply to Granny
      So you want people in NC to be even dumber than they already are? God up help.
      • reply
        by granny on May 9, 2011 at 03:17 PM in reply to
        No I do not want NC to become dumber, I want people to be responsible for their own children. Maybe if parents had to pay out of their pocket to educate their children , then they would take more interest and responcibility in the way their kids behave and instead of letting them be on the street half the night, they would be home studing and resting!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on May 10, 2011 at 05:28 AM in reply to granny
          Where does it say these kids were "on the street half the night"?? You're grabbing at straws to make your pitiful point .
  • by Gross exaggeration... on May 9, 2011 at 07:30 AM
    What this story failed to inform you is that those students had LONG histories of overall horrible behavior in school. Everyone was given an explanation as to why their students were long term suspended... a PLANNED act to cause physical bodily harm to each other. This whole thing is just stupid. If these parents had held their student accountable for their actions this would never be an issue...not to mention they probably could have gone to another county (and at least one of them tried) if they had not lied on the applications.
  • by skipper Location: beaufort county on May 9, 2011 at 06:23 AM
    This is crazy. This just encourages misbehavior. If students cannot behave and follow the rules they must face the consequesnces. They got the proper punishment according to the rules. If they cannot behave and follow rules without causing disruption to others who can and are there to learn they dont deserve an education. Thier misbehavior has now been awarded ! Great job state of NC.... get ready for more law suits... you have just opened pandoras box !
    • reply
      by Educator on May 9, 2011 at 08:28 AM in reply to skipper
      Skipper, you are 100% correct in stating this is a Pandora's box. This ruling has given tacit approval to students who wish to misbehave and create disturbances within the school to such an extent that it will diminish the ability and opportunities of others to learn. Administrators and teachers are now bound to go so far above and beyond in the reporting and dealing with this type of student that it becomes an effort in futility. We have rewarded a set of students for intentionally disrupting the educational process and set precedent that it is now acceptable to do so. All of this in association with tremendous cuts to public schools and the continual bashing of teachers. Yes, between the courts and the House of Representatives, our schools are being driven to the number 1 worst school system in the United States. On behalf of educators across NC, I thank you...NOT!
  • by marine mom Location: washington on May 9, 2011 at 05:23 AM
    If a child gets suspended from school then we as tax payers should not have an obligation to continue to educate that child until the suspension is over and they are back in school. if they wanted to learn then they would not have gotten suspended. then parents here were just looking for money. why dont they take that money and homeschool the child.?
  • by Really? on May 9, 2011 at 04:55 AM
    So what our courts are telling us is, if a student continually gets kicked out of school, disrupting learning for every student around them, the schools must continue to exhaust every resource at its disposal to offer that child an education? So basic education continues to be a right, and not a privilege, regardless of that child's actions? I feel like a dangerous precedent has been set here.
    • reply
      by Educator on May 9, 2011 at 06:55 AM in reply to Really?
      You're exactly right! The student who is being disruptive has far more rights that those who do and act as they are supposed to do. The disruptive child now has the right to keep your child from getting an education and doing well in their classes while they continue to raise Cain and break the law addressing disruption of the educational process and be rewarded. Just one more thing for those of us in the schools to deal with while funding is being drastically cut and people telling us that we are not doing our jobs correctly. Eventually someone may realize that we cannot make chicken salad out of chicken poo! Until that time....oh well.
  • by what? on May 9, 2011 at 04:44 AM
    I hope they have to pay taxes on that money! Im sorry but they are being rewarded $7000 for their misbehavior! Preposterous!
    • reply
      by A on May 9, 2011 at 05:37 AM in reply to what?
      I was just thinking the same thing... let's have our children act up in school, get kicked out, and let's sue... then we can get money! Smart thinking!
      • reply
        by anonymous on May 9, 2011 at 07:26 AM in reply to A
        Don't worry, they will put it back in our local economy. They can't hold on to money.
    • reply
      by $$$$$ on May 9, 2011 at 06:38 AM in reply to what?
      What has this child been doing the last 3 years
      • reply
        by --- on May 9, 2011 at 07:31 AM in reply to $$$$$
        They have since graduated. They were only suspended for one semester.
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