The players in North Carolina Education: how and where education leaders get their power | #Education

The General Assembly, the State Board of Education, and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction are the education power brokers at the state level. Below them are the local boards of education. The state constitution and general statute have a lot to say about all of these roles and what powers they have. 

This is what the state constitution says in Article 2, Section 20: The Powers of the General Assembly. 

“Each house shall be judge of the qualifications and elections of its own members, shall sit upon its own adjournment from day to day, and shall prepare bills to be enacted into laws.  The two houses may jointly adjourn to any future day or other place. Either house may, of its own motion, adjourn for a period not in excess of three days.”

The constitution then goes on to lay out more information related to bills, including how vetoes work. 

Governors in North Carolina couldn’t veto bills until 1996 when the state voted for a constitutional amendment granting him or her that ability. The veto power is now enshrined in the constitution, but there are exceptions. Here is a screen shot of the whole section on bill actions in the constitution, including the rules for vetoes and bills exempt from vetoes:

Screen shots from NC Constitution on General Assembly website. Alex Granados/EducationNC

What about the State Board of Education? Their power is laid out in Article Nine, section 5. It states: 

“The State Board of Education shall supervise and administer the free public school system and the educational funds provided for its support, except the funds mentioned in Section 7 of this Article, and shall make all needed rules and regulations in relation thereto, subject to laws enacted by the General Assembly.”

Section four lays out who should be on the State Board and also explains the roles of the state superintendent of public instruction this way: 

“The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be the secretary and chief administrative officer of the State Board of Education.”

So that’s what the constitution says, but state statute, created by acts of the General Assembly, lays out the process in much more detail. 

Chapter 115c-12 of the state statute on elementary and secondary education lays out further the  “Powers and duties of the Board generally.” It is long. You can find it here. 

Following that is a section on the state Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and more information about the role of the state superintendent including powers and duties. The powers and duties of the state superintendent are in section 115c-21. 

Legislation in 2016 transferred some of the powers previously held by the State Board of Education to the state superintendent. Among other things, the legislation and resulting court case clarified that the superintendent is the head of DPI, rather than the State Board. The state Superintendent was also given direct control “over all matters relating to the direct supervision and administration of the public school system.” Prior to lawmakers’ action, many of the superintendent’s powers were delegated by the State Board. The State Board sued over the changes, but the state Supreme Court ultimately found in favor of then-superintendent Mark Johnson.

Shortly after the section on the state superintendent in the state statutes, there is a section with information on the role of local boards of education. Chapter  115C-47 lays out their powers and duties.

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