Carteret County School Board Faces Legal Battle Over Unlawful Academic Calendar for 2024-25

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. – The Carteret County Board of Education is facing a lawsuit over allegations that it adopted an illegal calendar for the upcoming 2024-25 school year. According to the suit filed on Friday, eight individuals are holding the board accountable for a decision they believe will negatively impact parents, students, and business owners. The lawsuit argues that the board’s vote for a calendar that starts two weeks earlier than allowed by state law is in violation of North Carolina regulations.

The board’s desire to align the school’s start date with that of Carteret County Community College is cited as a reason behind the decision. Superintendent Richard Paylor stated that starting on August 13 would benefit dual-enrolled students who are completing high school and college credits simultaneously. Additionally, Paylor mentioned that advanced placement students often lose instructional days due to testing, and an earlier start date could address that issue. However, despite these reasons, the lawsuit emphasizes that the board’s approval still goes against state law.

The lawsuit names Kathryn Smith Chadwick, the chair of the board, and six others who unanimously voted in favor of the calendar. It also discloses that school leaders were aware of the illegality of the vote and that the board did not obtain a special waiver for this calendar. Superintendent Paylor expressed his intention to defend the calendar in court, suggesting that it provides a better option for students. The plaintiffs, however, assert that the calendar will have detrimental effects on parents, students, and local businesses alike.

This legal challenge highlights the ongoing tension between adhering to state regulations and addressing the specific needs and preferences of educational communities. As the case unfolds, it will determine whether the Carteret County Board of Education’s decision will be upheld or deemed illegal. The outcome of this lawsuit could have broader implications for school boards across the state who may face similar challenges in calendar-related decisions. The court’s ruling will determine the validity of the board’s approach and its impact on the upcoming school year.