The HLS Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice recently filed, along with a host of other organizations, an amicus curiae brief in the North Carolina Supreme Court on a school-to-prison pipeline case.

The case, King vs. Beaufort County Board of Education, involved arguments over whether the “fundamental right to education” guaranteed under the North Carolina State Constitution requires that strict scrutiny be applied to long-term out-of-school suspensions of students in which no alternative educational services were provided.

On March 22, the state’s supreme court heard oral arguments in the case of two Beaufort County students who were excluded from educational opportunities for nearly five months, due to a five second fight in the school courtyard.

The Houston Institute joined forces with The Advancement Project, Russ Skiba from Indiana University, and the University of North Carolina Center for Civil Rights to co-write a brief arguing that exclusionary school discipline jeopardizes students’ fundamental right to an education, citing recent social science evidence of the harmful impacts of zero tolerance and other exclusionary policies.

The brief was co-signed by, among other national organizations, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP-LDF, the New York Law School Racial Justice Project, and the American Civil Liberties Union. The statement of interest describes amici as organizations that “share a common concern that the widespread use of exclusionary practices has resulted in significant infringement of the educational rights of students around the country and in North Carolina.”

The HLS Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice is directed and founded by Professor Charles J. Ogletree, Jr. The Institute honors and continues the work of one of the great civil rights lawyers of the twentieth century. Litigator, scholar and teacher, Charles Hamilton Houston dedicated his life to using the law as a tool to reverse the unjust consequences of racial discrimination.