Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

North Carolina State Board of Education v. State

Supreme Court of North Carolina

June 8, 2018

NORTH CAROLINA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
v.
THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA and THE NORTH CAROLINA RULES REVIEW COMMISSION

          Heard in the Supreme Court on 7 February 2018.

          Appeal pursuant to N.C. G.S. § 7A-30(2) from the decision of a divided panel of the Court of Appeals, __ N.C.App. __, 805 S.E.2d 518 (2017), reversing and remanding an order granting summary judgment entered on 2 July 2015 by Judge Paul G. Gessner in Superior Court, Wake County.

          Robert F. Orr, PLLC, by Robert F. Orr; and Poyner Spruill LLP, by Andrew H. Erteschik, Saad Gul, and John M. Durnovich, for plaintiff-appellant.

          Joshua H. Stein, Attorney General, by Olga Vysotskaya de Brito, Special Deputy Attorney General, and Amar Majmundar, Senior Deputy Attorney General, for defendant-appellee State of North Carolina.

          Troutman Sanders LLP, by Christopher G. Browning, Jr., for defendant-appellee North Carolina Rules Review Commission.

          Smith, Anderson, Blount, Dorsett, Mitchell & Jernigan, L.L.P., by Christopher G. Smith and Taylor M. Dewberry, for North Carolina Chamber Legal Institute; P. Andrew Ellen, General Counsel for North Carolina Retail Merchants Association; and J. Michael Carpenter, General Counsel for North Carolina Home Builders Association, amici curiae.

          MORGAN, Justice.

         This appeal arises from proceedings instituted by the State Board of Education (the Board) seeking a declaratory ruling that laws requiring the Board to submit the rules and regulations it proposes to a statutorily created committee for review and approval are unconstitutional. We determine that the General Assembly lawfully delegated authority to the Rules Review Commission (the Commission) to review rules adopted by the Board. Therefore, we affirm the opinion of the Court of Appeals.

         The Board's complaint listed seven challenges to the Commission's interpretation and application of N.C. G.S. § 150B-2(1a) (definition of "Agency") to the Board. The complaint alleged two as-applied challenges to the Commission's interpretation and application of N.C. G.S. § 150B-2(1a), one joint as-applied and facial challenge regarding the application of the Administrative Procedure Act (the APA), and four facial challenges to the Commission's enabling legislation. The complaint asserted that since the establishment of the Commission in 1986, the Commission "has objected to or modified every rule adopted by the Board and submitted to the [Commission] for approval." The Board claimed in its complaint that it had "declined to adopt a number of rules that it otherwise would have adopted" but for the Commission's actions and that the review process "typically takes a minimum of six months, " which has "erode[d] the Board's ability to timely address critical issues facing our State in the area of education." In addition, the Board maintained that it would no longer voluntarily submit its rules to the Commission, and would instead independently deem its rules to have the force and effect of law.

         On 12 January 2015, the State of North Carolina and the Commission moved to dismiss the Board's complaint. The Board voluntarily dismissed without prejudice five of its seven claims, leaving the two as-applied challenges for determination. The Board moved for summary judgment as to its remaining claims. In addition to their motion to dismiss the Board's action, the State and the Commission opposed the Board's motion for summary judgment and argued that they were entitled to summary judgment in their favor. On 2 July 2015, the trial court allowed summary judgment for the Board.

         The State and the Commission appealed the trial court's summary judgment order to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. On 19 September 2017, the Court of Appeals filed a divided opinion reversing the trial court's order and remanding the matter to the trial court for entry of judgment in favor of defendants, the State and the Commission. N. C. State Bd. of Educ. v. State, __ N.C.App. __, 805 S.E.2d 518, (2017). The majority determined that "[t]he General Assembly, by enacting laws adopting a uniform statutory scheme governing administrative procedure, including the establishment of the Commission to review administrative rules, has imposed the requirement that the Board's rules be reviewed and approved prior to becoming effective." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 529. After detailing the history surrounding the creation and evolution of the Board, the majority stated that the 1942 amendment to the North Carolina Constitution, which included the last substantive changes to the constitution pertaining to the Board, removed the Board's "full power to legislate" but authorized the Board to "make all needful rules and regulations in relation" to specific powers given to the Board, including the ability "generally to supervise and administer the free public school system of the State." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 523. The court's majority further noted that the 1942 amendment made the Board's exercise of its authority "wholly subject to laws enacted by the General Assembly" by stating that "[a]ll the powers enumerated in this section shall be exercised in conformity with this Constitution and subject to such laws as may be enacted . . . by the General Assembly." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 527. The majority also concluded that the legislative delegation to the Commission of the review and approval process over the Board's administrative rules is exercised subject to proper limitations on the Commission's authority. Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 531. Such limitations include a recognition that the "Commission's review is limited to determining whether a proposed rule" meets the four criteria listed in N.C. G.S. § 150B-21.9(a). Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 531.

         The Court of Appeals majority amplified this recognition by further noting that the "General Assembly has also expressly protected its legislative authority from encroachment by the Commission" via subsection 150B-21.9(a) by prohibiting the Commission from "consider[ing] questions relating to the quality or efficacy of the rule" at issue and limiting the Commission's review "to determination of the standards set forth in this subsection." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 532. Therefore, as found by the majority, the General Assembly has "restrict[ed] the Commission from providing substantive review of proposed rules." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 532. The majority observed that by allowing for judicial review of a Commission decision regarding an agency's proposed rule, "the General Assembly has provided adequate procedural safeguards" for agencies. Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 532. Accordingly, the court held that "the review and approval authority delegated to the Commission is an appropriate delegable power and that the General Assembly has adequately directed the Commission's review of the Board's proposed rules and limited the role of the Commission to evaluating those proposed rules to ensure compliance with the APA." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d 532. Moreover, the majority concluded that "[b]y providing adequate guidelines for rules review, the General Assembly has ensured that the Commission's authority as it relates to the rules promulgated by the Board is not 'arbitrary and unreasoned' and is sufficiently defined to maintain the separation of powers required by our state constitution." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 532 (quoting In re Declaratory Ruling, 134 N.C.App. 22, 33, 517 S.E.2d 134, 142, appeal dismissed and disc. rev. denied, 351 N.C. 105, 540 S.E.2d 356 (1999)). The majority ultimately summarized its holding as:

(1) the 1942 amendment to Article IX of the North Carolina Constitution rebalanced the division of power between the Board and the General Assembly by limiting the Board's authority to be subject more broadly to enactments by the General Assembly; (2) the General Assembly, by enacting the APA and creating the Commission, acted within the scope of its constitutional authority to limit the Board's rulemaking authority by requiring approval of rules prior to enactment; (3) the General Assembly's delegation to the Commission of the authority to review and approve Board rules does not contravene the Board's general rulemaking authority; and (4) the General Assembly has delegated review and approval authority to the Commission without violating the separation of powers clause by providing adequate guidance and limiting the Commission's review and approval power.

Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 532.

         In contrast, the dissenting opinion viewed the delegation of authority by the General Assembly to the Commission to review and approve the Board's rules as improper, characterizing that delegation as an act in contravention of the constitutional authority that "granted and conveyed to the State Board powers, which are not intended to be, and cannot be, removed from the State Board and subordinated to or overruled by an executive agency review body." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 534 (Tyson, J., dissenting). The dissent described the Commission, as an entity "created by statute in 1986, long subsequent to the ratification of the current version of Article IX, § 5, and consist[ing] of ten non-elected members appointed by the General Assembly, " to be a body of individuals who have "purported to act on their own accord in delaying and striking down 'needed rules and regulations' established under constitutionally mandated policy of the State Board, without bicameral review and presentment of a bill." Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 533. Opining that "[t]he General Assembly cannot either usurp [or] delegate the specific constitutional authority vested in the State Board" regarding "educational policy and rulemaking authority, " id. at, 805 S.E.2d at 533, the dissent here adopted a stance that "[b]y enacting the [APA], the General Assembly could not and did not transfer the State Board's constitutionally specified rulemaking power to an agency rule oversight commission under the [APA], " id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 534. As a result, the dissenting judge at the Court of Appeals would affirm the trial court's summary judgment determination in favor of the Board in light of a perceived failure by the State and the Commission to show error by the trial court and in light of the dissent's interpretation of the relevant law. Id. at _, 805 S.E.2d at 536.

         I. History of the Board of Education

         In their 1868 constitution, the people of North Carolina created the Board to supervise and administer the State's free public school system. The Constitution of North Carolina established the State Board of Education using the following language:

The Board of Education shall succeed to all the powers and trusts of the President and Directors of the Literary Fund of North Carolina, and shall have full power to legislate and make all needful rules and regulations in relation to free public schools and the educational fund of the State; but all acts, rules and regulations of said Board may be altered, amended or repealed by the General Assembly, and when so altered, amended or repealed, they shall not be re-enacted by the Board.

N.C. Const. of 1868, art. IX, § 9. In 1937 the General Assembly directed Governor Clyde R. Hoey to appoint a commission to examine North Carolina's public educational system and recommend improvements to lawmakers. Act of Mar. 22, 1937, ch. 379, 1937 N.C. Pub. Sess. Laws, 709. The resulting Commission on Education determined that North Carolina's public education system was being governed not only by the State Board of Education but by several other boards as well. Report and Recommendations of the Governor's Commission on Education 30 (Dec. 1, 1938) [hereinafter 1938 Report]. The Commission recommended that the General Assembly transfer all duties and work from the various other education-related boards and commissions to the State Board of Education. Id. at 30-31. In 1942 the voters of North Carolina adopted a constitutional amendment proposed by the General Assembly making several changes to the governance and authority of the Board as follows:

The State Board of Education shall succeed to all the powers and trusts of the President and Directors of the Literary Fund of North Carolina and the State Board of Education as heretofore constituted. The State Board of Education shall have power to divide the State into a convenient number of school districts; to regulate the grade, salary and qualifications of teachers; to provide for the selection and adoption of the textbooks to be used in the public schools; to apportion and equalize the public school funds over the State; and generally to supervise and administer the free public school system of the State and make all needful rules and regulations in relation thereto. All the powers enumerated in this section shall be exercised in conformity with this Constitution and subject to such laws as may be enacted from time to time by the General Assembly.

N.C. Const. of 1868, art. IX, § 9 (1942). These were the last material changes to the Board's power.

         The constitution was rewritten again in 1970 and included the following language, which remains unchanged:

The State Board of Education shall supervise and administer the free public school system and the educational funds provided for its support, except the funds mentioned in Section 7 of this Article, and shall make all needed rules and regulations in relation thereto, subject to laws enacted by the General Assembly.

N.C. Const. art. IX, § 5. The plain language of the constitution does not expressly mention a review process for the Board's rules.

         II. Review of the General Assembly's Constitutional Authority ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.