Carolina Supreme Court Hears Oral Arguments in Hoke County v. State
part of their deliberations on the appeal of a lower court's decision in favor
of plaintiffs, North Carolina's Supreme Court justices heard oral arguments on
September 10th in the long-standing school funding adequacy case, Hoke County
In a packed courtroom with an overflow crowd viewing on closed
circuit television, the seven justices peppered attorneys Robert Spearman, representing
the original plaintiff poor rural school districts, Ann Majestic, representing
the plaintiff-intervenor urban districts, and Special Deputy Attorney General
Thomas Ziko, representing the State defendants, with questions on all aspects
of the case. The justices seemed to focus especially on the lower court's conclusion
that an adequate education for "at-risk" students must include pre-school.
of the attorneys representing plaintiffs urged the supreme court to uphold the
Superior Court's ruling in Hoke County, arguing that
schools in the rural and urban districts are not receiving adequate funding to
be able to provide their students with the "opportunity for a sound basic education,"
as required by the North Carolina constitution. Bob Spearman asserted that the
decision below was well-grounded on extensive and overwhelming evidence.
for the defendants, Tom Zitko asked the justices to overturn the trial court's
decision, pointing out that the trial judge had found the State's learning standards,
teacher licensing, curriculum, and its assessment system to be constitutionally
sound. He claimed that the judge had erred by relying on below-grade-level test
scores to show that some students were not getting the constitutionally guaranteed
As reported by newsobserver.com,
the supreme court's decision is anticipated sometime during the current school
For a brief summary of developments in this case and links to court
decisions, go to North Carolina.
September 12, 2003