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5 Things to Know: NC Supreme Court Issues Leandro Ruling

...and four more stories from Oct. 30-Nov. 5, 2022

Counsel for the State of North Carolina and the plaintiffs sit at the Supreme Court minutes prior to oral arguments
Counsel for the State of North Carolina and the plaintiffs sit at the NC Supreme Court minutes prior to oral arguments in the summer. (Photo by Rupen Fofaria/EducationNC)

NC Supreme Court Issues Leandro Ruling

After nearly 30 years since the original lawsuit was filed, the NC Supreme Court issued a new ruling in the Leandro case, paving the way for a $785-million boost in funding for public schools from the state.

The NC Supreme Court ruled in favor of implementing the Leandro Plan, created by Gov. Cooper’s administration after he took office in 2018 as a proposed solution to the long-running Leandro case, first filed in 1994 by five school districts and parents within those districts who claimed low-income children were being denied their constitutional right to a sound basic education. 

In April, Judge Michael Robinson issued an order stating that the North Carolina state budget as it was passed in 2021 underfunds a comprehensive remedial plan in the long-running Leandro case by about $785 million. The most recent NC Supreme Court hearing, the fourth one involving Leandro, aimed to decide whether the courts could compel the transfer of $785 million to state agencies as remedy for any violation. 

NC Supreme Court judges did order such a transfer by a 4-3 vote down party lines. The ruling was issued just days before the November election could potentially shift the Democratic majority on the NC Supreme Court. 

“Finally, after decades of prolonged litigation, the fundamental constitutional right of the children of North Carolina to receive a sound basic education and the vital resources necessary to give that right meaning is given life, enshrined and ensured,” wrote North Carolina Justice Center Executive Director Rick Glazier in a release Friday. 

“This is the most important civil rights decision issued by the Supreme Court in decades and one which will benefit generations of North Carolina children to come.”

The funds will be dispersed in the second and third years of the eight-year Leandro Plan

Toddler Killed in Accidental Shooting

A 4-year-old boy was tragically killed in what appears to be an accidental shooting in southeast Charlotte on Wednesday. According to CMPD, police responded to a home on Charleston Place near McAlpine Creek Park at around 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, where they found 4-year-old Demario Warren dead from a gunshot wound.

Police originally reported on Wednesday that the shooting was self-inflicted, followed by a Thursday update stating that detectives had interviewed Demario’s 25-year-old father, Dayshawn Warren, and charged him with involuntary manslaughter and improper storage of a firearm.

City Launches Electric Vehicle Car-Share

A city spokesperson on Thursday announced the launch of a new electric vehicle (EV) car-sharing program in Charlotte in partnership with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Centralina Regional Council.

The program is part of a nationwide Affordable Mobility Platform (AMP) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy with an aim to increase access to electric transportation by making low-cost EVs available to underserved communities. Charlotte is the only one southeastern city participating out of 10 around the country, according to a release sent out on Thursday.

The EV car-sharing program will launch in July 2023, with 10 shared EVs made available to residents and staff in five affordable housing developments across the city. Though final confirmations are pending, the five developments that have committed represent 538 housing units, and eligible residents with valid driver’s licenses will have the opportunity first to test-drive the vehicles through ride-and-drive events, allowing them to become more familiar with the technology. For future trips, residents will be able to reserve the vehicles online and rent them at a small hourly or daily fee.

The program is funded for two years and designed with the intention to continue as a self-funded model in the years to come, according to the release. 

CMS Kicks Off Esports League

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Varsity Esports & STEM League, the first such league in the district’s history, officially kicked off on Wednesday, with 12 high schools participating in the inaugural season. The competition will involve head-to-head Rocket League match-ups between the varsity and junior varsity teams of participating high schools: Providence, Palisades, Hough, South Mecklenburg, East Mecklenburg, Charlotte Engineering, Ardrey Kell, Williams Montessori, Olympic, Garinger, Hopewell, and Phillip O. Berry.

Rocket League is an online game with rules similar to soccer in which players use different models of virtual cars to steer the ball into a net. More than 500 CMS students signed up to play in the inaugural league, and close to 100 were selected to play at the varsity, junior varsity and club levels for their respective schools.

Weekly competitions will also be professionally produced and streamed live on Twitch, with professional esports commentators, every Wednesday night for the length of the season. Along with the esports competition, each high school will compete in challenges designed to further the students’ skills in high-value STEM categories, according to a release sent out this week. The STEM challenges will be broadcast during the esports competition on the same Twitch channel and judged by industry experts on a head-to-head basis, just like the Rocket League matches. The first season will feature five regular-season matchups, followed by playoffs and a championship.

History Museum Surpasses Siloam School Goal

The Charlotte Museum of History announced Tuesday that a new gift of $500,000 from The Gambrell Foundation puts the total amount raised by the museum’s Save Siloam School campaign at $1.2 million, exceeding its original $1 million goal.

Advocates for the Siloam School project (from left): Vi Lyles, Larken Egleston, Greg Phipps and then-CEO of CMoH Adria Focht, present a check to the Save the Siloam School Project in January 2019. (Photo by Daniel Coston/Charlotte Museum of History)

A local Black community centered on the Siloam Church in northeast Charlotte built the historic Siloam School in the early 1920s to give their children a quality education despite segregation. The museum resumed a fundraiser in November 2017 that aims to move the school from its original location in University City, where it is currently sitting abandoned and becoming increasingly dilapidated behind an apartment complex, to the museum property in east Charlotte, where it can be renovated and used as an educational center.

Museum staff and the Save Siloam School team will now begin working on the logistics involved with moving the school, with a goal of completing that by spring. 

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