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Union County Board of Education files request for rehearing

On May 12, the Union County Board of Education filed with the North Carolina Court of Appeals a request for rehearing of its April 7 decision which reversed the Board of Education’s judgment against the Union County Board of Commissioners and sent the case back to court in Union County for a new trial.

The Board of Education exercised its option under the law to ask the Appellate Court to review its decision, based upon a belief that the court’s ruling was mistaken in several key respects.

“While I think we can all agree that the relationship between our school board and the Board of Commissioners is on a much more solid footing than it was a couple of years ago, we believe it is important to pursue and resolve these issues and try to get clarification from the North Carolina Court of Appeals before either of our boards might have to face the prospect of a new trial,” said Board Chairman John Collins. “I think we can safely say no one would look forward to that, and we would hope for a more peaceful resolution.”

In the Petition for Rehearing filed last evening, the Board of Education asks the Court to reconsider its decision that the evidence in a school budget dispute case is limited to no more than the school board’s budget request, even if that is less than the amount legally necessary to maintain the school system.

The Board of Education also asks the court to overturn its determination that any school board that fails to sue its county commissioners has, by implication, determined that school appropriations were sufficient for that year. 

The Board of Education has requested that the Court more closely examine the briefs and the evidence and rescind its determination that a new trial is needed on the jury’s $4,973,143 current expense award, since no evidence was presented to the jury of operating costs needed beyond the 2013-14 budget year.

Finally, the Board of Education is asking the Court of Appeals to review its determination that the jury instructions were misleading regarding the right to a sound basic education established by the Leandro case.  The Board’s petition shows the trial court’s instruction were taken directly from the Leandro decision.

“I think I have told everyone who would listen that our board has tried to settle this case from day one, including every single day during the trial, and we would still like to do so,” said Superintendent Dr. Mary B. Ellis.

Collins noted that this is an intermediate step that is legally available to the Board of Education and is the Board’s right to pursue.  “The Board decided this was something we needed to do to assure a correct legal result,” he explained.  “This does not in any way suggest we don’t intend to build upon our improved relationship with the commissioners. We are simply carrying out this process, just as the commissioners did when they chose to appeal.  We will continue to work closely with our commissioners moving forward.”

Written by: Tahira Stalberte - Chief Communications Officer
Posted: May 13, 2015 by Tahira Stalberte

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