Brunswick County charter school petitions Supreme Court

Charter Day School Inc. has petitioned the Supreme Court to “review and reverse” a recent appeals court ruling
Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 6:18 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Charter Day School Inc., an organization that runs three charter schools in Wilmington, Southport and Whiteville, has petitioned the Supreme Court to “review and reverse” a recent appeals court ruling holding their student uniform policy as unlawful.

The 10-6 ruling by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond was issued on June 14 after the court found that the school’s uniform policy, requiring girls to wear skirts, jumpers or skorts is a ‘state actor’ and the school is bound by the same regulations as government-run public schools.

“North Carolina charter schools—like many throughout the nation—build upon a critical insight: Allowing private entities to operate publicly funded schools with minimal government oversight supercharges educational innovation and expands parental choice. The [court of appeals] decision … profoundly threatens this model,” Charter Day School, Inc. officials said.

Charter Day School Inc. has sent in a “Petition for a Writ of Certiorari”, arguing that the Fourth Circuit ruling is flawed and contradicts previous rulings by both the Supreme Court and three federal appellate courts. According to Fourth Circuit Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum, Jr., one of the six dissenters in the June 14 ruling, neither the Supreme Court nor any federal appellate court had declared a publicly-funded charter school as a state actor under 42 U.S.C. 1983 prior to June 14.

The dissenting judge notes that the First, Third and Ninth Circuits have all previously ruled that “a private education contractor does not engage in state action, unless the state coerced or encouraged the challenged conduct.”

“The Fourth Circuit’s rationale lacks meaningful ‘limiting principles’ and would cover charter-school operators throughout the country,” school officials said. “This would threaten the independence of such schools and, as Fourth Circuit Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III warned in his dissent, ‘send … education in a monolithic direction, stifling the competition’ that spurs educational improvement.”