Students suspended from school for fighting have no fundamental right to alternative education under the North Carolina Constitution, the state’s highest court has ruled. However, the justices said, a district must provide an “important or significant reason” for denying alternative schooling.
The case stemmed from two students’ involvement in a 2006 melee at a high school in the Beaufort County school district. Both were suspended and denied permission to attend the district’s alternative-learning center.
In its decision this month, the North Carolina Supreme Court held that even though there is a statutory right to alternative education in the state, there is no fundamental right to such an alternative for students who are violent or disruptive.
“Because the safety and educational interests of all students receiving alternative education must be protected, students who exhibit violent behavior, threaten staff or other students, substantially disrupt the learning process, or otherwise engage in serious misconduct may be denied access,” Justice Mark Martin wrote. Because the district had not provided any reason for denying the two students schooling, however, the state high court sent the case back to a lower court for further proceedings.
A version of this article appeared in the October 20, 2010 edition of Education Week as Alternative Education Not a Fundamental Right in N.C.