Judge says Carteret County Schools can’t start classes on August 13th

CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A judge says an Eastern Carolina school district has to re-work its school calendar, and cannot start classes on August 13th.

Superior Judge William Wolfe ruled today that Carteret County School’s calendar goes against state law and is void.

The ruling came after a group of residents sued the school district in April over when classes should start.

“This is a final order,” said Mitch Armbruster, an attorney representing the residents. “I think it’s a very straight forward and well-reasoned order. You don’t need to be an attorney to read this order and understand what it said.”

State law sets August 26th as the earliest start date for schools to begin classes.

The school system said it changed the start date to align its calendars with the community college and to balance the instructional calendar, and allow students to take exams before the winter break.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling,” Armbruster said. “All we asked for in this case was that the school district be required to follow the law, a law which the school board openly admitted they were violating. We shouldn’t be teaching our children that it is OK to violate the law.”

Armbruster went on to say, ““I do think it’s a bit unprecedented for local officials to sort of think they can violate a law like this. It just doesn’t really happen.”

In a statement, the school system said it was disappointed with the ruling. “In North Carolina there are 210 charter schools, 134 cooperative innovative high schools, and 680 private schools (now eligible for publicly-funded vouchers) that are not subject to the calendar statute,” the statement read. “This gives them flexibility to start their school years in early to mid-August and complete their first semester, including final exams, before the winter break.”

Carteret County said its school board will meet to consider an appeal, and will also look at adopting a new calendar. “We do not want to hold our students and families in limbo as to when school will start in August.”