School Funding

State comptroller takes legal action to block Leandro’s funding order

RALEIGH – State Comptroller Linda Combs is going to court to block a recent ruling in the long-running Leandro School funding case.

Combs filed a motion Wednesday asking the North Carolina Court of Appeals to issue a “writ of prohibition.” The writ would block an order by retired Union County judge David Lee to have Combs transfer $ 1.7 billion from the public purse related to Leandro.

“The applicant and her counsel seek this summons for three independent reasons: (1) ordering the controller to take the measures provided for in the order does not fall within the jurisdiction of the court, (2) the order is in contradiction with the rules prescribed by law, or (3)… the Ordinance requires the Applicant to act “in a manner which is contrary to a legal right” “, according to the petition of Robert Hunter, counsel for Combs.

Combs and his office never partied Leandro, Hunter writes. The Monitor also did not receive any legal documents related to the case.

“The petitioner has not been made aware of any law of the General Assembly that would allow her to legally distribute funds from the Treasury to comply with the court order, regardless of the amount,” Hunter writes.

The Court of Appeal is the appropriate venue for Combs to make his case against Lee’s Nov. 10 order, Hunter says. “The November 10 order makes it clear that Judge Lee is about to use the judiciary without personal competence or legal authority to do so, which will harm the petitioner, and the petitioner not being a named party in the trial, has no other adequate practical recourse to address it. injury.”

Lee’s Order presents Combs and his staff with a “Hobson pick,” Hunter writes. “Either neglect to perform his duties under oath to enforce the law, or be the subject of criminal charges or motions to justify contempt of court for having performed his duties under oath.” “

“Without a writ being granted, applicants face either negligence to enforce North Carolina laws or contempt.”

Combs’ motion reminds the Court of Appeal that a trial judge does not have the power to make the type of order Lee made. “The constitution does not give the judiciary the power to allocate funds,” Hunter writes. “The simple language of the constitution is clear. “

State legislative leaders also complained about Lee’s decision to bypass the General Assembly by issuing his ordinance. The judge was reacting to a multi-year multi-year school funding plan developed by San Francisco-based education consultant WestEd. The governor, attorney general, State Board of Education, and Leandro’s plaintiffs all approved the plan. The legislator played no role in drawing up the plan.

There is no word on how quickly the Court of Appeal might respond to Combs’ motion.