By Liz Bell and Alex Granados, EducationNC

Raleigh, N.C. — Marking the 20th anniversary of a lawsuit around equal opportunity in public schools, both sides in the Leandro case (Leandro v. State), in a joint motion Monday, called for an independent consultant to make recommendations on how to ensure quality education for every North Carolina child.

Melanie Black Dubis, the lead counsel for the plaintiff school districts in the suit, said the independent consultant is necessary to securing the constitutional rights of all children.

“For decades, hundreds of thousands of North Carolina children have left our public schools not performing at grade level and therefore not having received a sound basic education,” Dubis said in a statement. “A comprehensive, detailed plan, developed by an independent expert consultant is the first step to guaranteeing that we do not fail one more child.”

Bill Cobey, the chair of the State Board of Education, however, said he doesn’t see how an independent expert is going to help.

“I respect everybody involved in this, but I don’t know what an independent consultant is going to come up with that we haven’t come up with through the years,” Cobey said, adding that he was speaking for himself and not the entire State Board.

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