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High school students

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In King v. Beaufort County Board of Education, the N.C. Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals’ decision, which upheld the trial court’s judgment in favor of the defendant-school board.

The Plaintiff was a sophomore in high school. She was involved a school fight and suspended for 10 days. The principal then recommended she be suspended for the remainder of the school year. She appealed the decision.

The Court held that in NC there is a statutory but not a constitutional right to an alternative education. The Court reviewed the conduct of the school under the intermediate scrutiny standard. Under the state intermediate-scrutiny standard, school administrators must provide an important reason for denying students access to alternative education.

State law requires local boards of education to establish at least one alternative learning program and to create strategies for assigning long-term suspended students to it when feasible and appropriate. G.S. § 115C-47(32a). Since the General Assembly has chosen to grant this statutory right to long-term suspended students, school administrators must provide a reason to the student for excluding the student from an alternative learning program.

In King, the school failed to provide a reason for the denial of an alternative learning program. The Court held that the school must provide a reason for excluding the Plaintiff from an alternative learning program and that a failure to do so does violate the Plaintiff’s constitutional rights.