North Carolina

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School desegregation efforts in North Carolina have largely been centered around three major metropolitan regions anchored by the cities of Charlotte, Raleigh, and Greensboro.  In order to comply with a court-approved desegregation plan, students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district took part in a busing program, which gave rise to Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, where in 1971 the Supreme Court determined busing students to achieve racial integration was a constitutional action.  After the district was declared unitary in 1999, the busing program was dismantled and schools experienced resegregation.  In the Wake County school system, home to the state capital Raleigh, a continued focus on socioeconomic integration has somewhat prevented the backslide into segregation observed in other metros around the state, even despite organized political resistance aimed at rolling back integration efforts.  In Spring 2016 the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education hired the Alves Educational Consultants Group, which includes NCSD members John Brittain and Richard Kahlenberg, to help formulate a new method of student assignment for the district.





  • Halifax County, North Carolina — On August 24, 2015, the UNC Center for Civil Rights filed suit in NC superior court on behalf of the Coalition for Education and Economic Security (CEES), the Halifax County Branch of the NAACP, and three parents and guardians of children attending public schools in Halifax County against the Halifax County Board of Commissioners to vindicate the North Carolina constitutional right of all Halifax County’s schoolchildren to the opportunity for a sound basic education. See the press conference held by the Center’s clients here.
  • North Carolina — The UNC Center for Civil Rights (the Center) represents the NC NAACP as amicus to the NC Supreme Court on State defendants’ appeal of a 2014 order finding NC’s voucher program unconstitutional. Over 70 school districts, as well as the NC School Boards Association, filed suit in 2013 to challenge the program, while taxpayers and parents filed a separate action. Oral argument at NC’s highest court took place on February 24, 2015, and a decision is pending. The Center’s amicus brief lays out the history of school segregation in the state and describes the segregative impact of the voucher program. (March 2015)
  • North Carolina – UNC Center for Civil Rights letter to the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education, Re: OCR Complaint Nos. 11-10-1311 and 11-10-1313 (October 17, 2014)
  • North Carolina — UNC Center for Civil Rights amicus brief in North Carolina private school voucher case (on behalf of the state conference of the NAACP, February 2014)
  • Wake County, North Carolina — The NAACP filed a Title VI complaint with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that the district intentionally created a system of racially segregated schools by making changes to the student assignment plan. (September 2010)