Abbreviated name: Richardson v. State of North Carolina 

Court assigned case numbers: Wake County 13CVS16484; N.C. Court of Appeals 14-675; N.C. Supreme Court 384A14

All plaintiffs: Reverend Robert Richardson, III, Michael and Delores Galloway, Steven W. Sizemore, The North Carolina School Boards Association, Alamance-Burlington Board of Education, Asheboro City Board of Education, Catawba County Board of Education, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education, Chatham County Board of Education, Cleveland County Board of Education, Columbus County Board of Education, Craven County Board of Education, Currituck County Board of Education, Davidson County Board of Education, Durham Public Schools Board of Education, Edenton-Chowan Board of Education, Gates County Board of Education, Graham County Board of Education, Halifax County Board of Education, Harnett County Board of Education, Hyde County Board of Education, Lee County Board of Education, Lenoir County Board of Education, Lexington City Board of Education, Macon County Board of Education, Martin County Board of Education, Mount Airy City Board of Education, Newton-Conover City Board of Education, Onslow County Board of Education, Orange County Board of Education, Pamlico County Board of Education, Person County Board of Education, Pitt County Board of Education, Polk County Board of Education, Rockingham County Board of Education, Rutherford County Board of Education, Scotland County Board of Education, Stanly County Board of Education, Surry County Board of Education, Vance County Board of Education, Warren County Board of Education, Washington County Board of Education, Whiteville City Board of Education, Yancey County Board of Education, Alexander County Board of Education, Asheville City Board of Education, Avery County Board of Education, Bertie County Board of Education, Bladen County Board of Education, Camden County Board of Education, Caswell County Board of Education, Cherokee County Board of Education, Clinton City Board of Education, Cumberland County Board of Education, Edgecombe County Board of Education, Elizabeth City- Pasquotank Board of Education, Franklin County Board of Education, Granville County Board of Education, Guilford County Board of Education, Haywood County Board of Education, Hertford County Board of Education, Hickory City Board of Education, Hoke County Board of Education, Jackson County Board of Education, Jones County Board of Education, Kannapolis City Board of Education, Montgomery County Board of Education, Moore County Board of Education, Mooresville Graded School District Board of Education, Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education, Northampton County Board of Education, Board of Trustees For Roanoke Rapids Graded School District, Sampson County Board of Education, Thomasville City Board of Education, and Transylvania County Board of Education

Defendants: State of North Carolina, North Carolina Education Assistance Authority

Defendant Intervenors: Cynthia Perry, Gennell Curry, (parents represented by counsel) (“Parent Defendant Intervenors” and Thom Tillis, Phil Berger (in capacity as speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate, “Legislative Officers Defendant Intervenors”)

General description

Plaintiffs are taxpayers and challenge the constitutionality of the Opportunity Scholarship Program (“OSP”) legislation that provides scholarships of up to $4,200 for eligible North Carolina school children to use at private schools for primary and secondary education. Trial court judge Robert Hobgood ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the OSP legislation violates several of the education provisions in the North Carolina Constitution (Article I, Section 15, Article IX, Section 2(1), Article IX, Section 6) as well as the provisions requiring a public purpose (Article V, Section 2(1) and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion (Article A, Section 19). The State, along with the Defendant Intervenors appealed the decision. Defendant Intervenors also requested a stay of the decision in order for the program to continue to be administered during the appeal. The North Carolina Court of Appeals permitted the disbursement of funds to applicants who had accepted the scholarships as of August 21 but not for those after this date.

Latest action/Next steps

Defendant-Intervenors submitted a motion for supplemental relief on June 23 to the Supreme Court, requesting a modification to the December 12, 2014 order in order to allow disbursements of scholarship proceeds (vouchers) for the 2015-16 school year.  The Defendant-Intervenors note in their brief that the Supreme Court accepted the case on expedited appeal and heard oral arguments in February.  The next scheduled date for the Supreme Court to issue opinions is August 21 – which is six days after the schedule for disbursements for the 2015-16 school year.  

On October 10, 2014, the Supreme Court issued an order to review the case prior to a determination by the Court of Appeals. This was at the initiation of the Supreme Court rather than one of the parties. The Defendant-Intervenors Thom Tillis and Phil Berger (“Legislative Officers”) sought for the case to be heard on an expedited schedule and to permit the State Education Authority to proceed with preliminary administrative steps necessary to prepare for the 2015-16 academic year. On December 12, 2014, the Supreme Court allowed both motions, except that no funds can be released without further order of the court. On December 23, 2014, the Supreme Court denied a motion to consolidate the two cases, Richardson v. State and Hart v. State by the parent-defendant intervenors. The oral arguments are scheduled for February 17 at 9:30 a.m.

Court documents

Trial court

Order Granting Motion to Intervene BOE (8-4-2014)

Richardson Order Granting PI

Richardson – Order and Final Judgment 8 28 14

Court of Appeals

Court of Appeals orders

Supreme Court

Supreme Court orders

Richardson Expedite, Release of Funds SC 2014

Richardson Consolidation Denied SC 2014

Richardson Certify for RV SC 2014

Motion for Supplemental Relief