Deconstructing a Decade of Charter School Funding Litigation: An Argument for Reform

BY Lisa Lukasik

For over a decade, North Carolina’s charter schools and traditional public schools have been embroiled in litigation over access to local public funding. This litigation shows no sign of abatement. In fact, disputes between charter schools and traditional public schools over local funds are likely to continue until the North Carolina legislature revisits the state’s charter school funding statute and modifies the means by which local funds are transferred to charter schools.

This Article deconstructs the state’s charter school funding statute, the decade-long series of appellate decisions interpreting it, and the administrative and legislative responses to each appellate decision. It contends that the source of disputes over local funding is found, at least in part, in the statutory method by which these funds are distributed to charter schools through the accounts of local boards of education.

This Article ultimately proposes a fundamental revision to North Carolina’s charter school funding statute to allow charter schools to receive their statutory allocation of local public funds directly from the source of those funds, eliminating local boards’ responsibility to serve as intermediaries in the transfer of those funds to charter schools. This change facilitates charter schools’ ability to enjoy the independence envisioned by their authorizing legislation and eliminates comingling of charter school and traditional public school funding in local boards’ accounts. With greater independence and without comingled funds, disputes between the two types of public schools are less likely to arise, and educational resources are more likely to be applied directly toward education rather than toward litigation.

DOWNLOAD PDF | 90 N.C. L. Rev.1885 (2012)