Challenge in court doubted

Jan. 28, 2014 @ 02:11 PM

As tensions flare, some parents have talked about possibly of suing Union County Public Schools over the possibility of redistricting. 

Keith Howard, an assistant professor at the Charlotte School of Law, said that many people who try to challenge school redistricting use the 14th Amendment to challenge. The 14th Amendment deals with equal protection under the


law and citizenship rights. 

“They’ll make the argument that this is motivated by race or some other issue,” Howard said. 

He said based on his understanding, the redistricting proposal is race neutral and based on filling empty seats in the district. 

Howard said the only way the board would be subject to strict scrutiny, the highest level of judicial review, is if they burden the fundamental rights or if they use race as a reason either benefit a group or burden a group. 

He said that they will not be able to use the precedent set by Leandro v. State, which ruled that all children in North Carolina have the right to receive a “sound, basic education.” 

“(They are) not going to be able to argue that their kid’s fundamental right to an education will be impacted,” he said. 

He said that under statutory law, no child has the right to go to a certain school. 

“You don’t have the right to go to any particular school,” he said. “They really don’t have a viable, legal argument. What they can do is put pressure on the board members to not go through with the plan.” 

He said while there is not a legal argument, there is a political argument. 

“I really don’t see any other viable option for them,” he said. “If the board has decided to use a race-neutral, gender-neutral reason to send these kids to another school.” 

There have been legal challenges to redistricting in Virginia, though many were dismissed. 

Parents continue to disagree with the redistricting assignment through social media and at meetings. Parents argue they do not want their neighborhoods to be split up and they are worried about their children having to travel farther to attend school. 

School administration delivered a presentation Thursday night presenting alternatives to redistricting. The school board will have its regular meeting Feb. 4 and will have cluster meetings to discuss overcrowding issues.