Motion seeks monetary sanctions on NCAE related to school choice lawsuit 

Image via National School Choice Week

RALEIGH — Sixteen private schools want sanctions placed on the N.C. Association of Educators of $25,000, according to a motion filed in the case involving the state’s popular Opportunity Scholarship Program. 

The schools, all religious schools, are Bethesda Christian Academy, Cresset Christian Academy, Fellowship Baptist Academy, Gorman Christian Academy, Liberty Christian Academy, Mount Zion Christian Academy, Berean Baptist Academy, Fayetteville Christian School, Trinity Christian School of Fayetteville, Inc., Bal Perazim Christian Academy, Cornerstone Christian Academy, Cumberland County Christian School, Destiny Now Academy, Falcon Christian Academy, Greater Fayetteville Adventist Academy and Riverside Christian Academy. 

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Six of the schools are located in Durham. 

The N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) dropped its lawsuit against the program last month. The lawsuit, Kelly v. State of North Carolina, was originally filed in 2020 by NCAE President Tamika Walker Kelly and four other individuals.  

In the filing requesting dismissal of the lawsuit, Christopher Brook, the attorney representing NCAE, wrote “Plaintiffs have consulted with all parties regarding costs, and all parties agree that each side will bear their own costs. Defendants reserve the right to pursue costs should Plaintiffs re-file this lawsuit within one year of this filing.” 

That agreement to “bear their own costs” is the focus of the motion filed by the 16 schools that were not parties to the lawsuit but contend they were subjected to targeted harassment for documents and depositions. 

The motion seeks recompense for expenses incurred by the schools and cites a legal rule that says, “A party or an attorney responsible for the issuance and service of a subpoena shall take reasonable steps to avoid imposing an undue burden or expense on a person subject to the subpoena.” 

That rule also says, “The court shall enforce this subdivision and impose upon the party or attorney in violation of this requirement an appropriate sanction that may include compensating the person unduly burdened for lost earnings and for reasonable attorney’s fees.” 

The motion, filed by former legislator Paul “Skip” Stam on behalf of the schools, asks for the “appropriate sanction” to be placed on NCAE by the court by paying $25,337.60 to the 16 schools. 

Early last August, the schools in Durham received subpoenas requesting an extensive list of documents for the school years 2019-20 and 2020-21, according to the motion.  

Some of the documents requested included applications to the schools, admissions criteria, school policies, disciplinary files and all documents that outline a school’s “official religious beliefs.” The subpoenas gave one month for the schools to produce the items to be followed by depositions of school officials.  

A request to the courts to halt the document production and depositions was denied by a Durham Superior Court judge, resulting in large legal and court fees for at least six of the 12 schools. 

This article was updated to correct the dollar amount requested by the 16 schools as over $25,000 in total.

About A.P. Dillon 1337 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_