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Video | What is Leandro?

North Carolina’s Leandro court case has been ongoing for more than 20 years. The case, which centers on the state’s constitutional mandate to provide every child with a sound, basic education, has seen several developments in the past few years.

Check out the video below for a quick catch-up on the case and what it means for North Carolina.

Keep an eye out for EdNC’s coverage of any further developments related to Leandro in 2020, including the submission of short-, mid- and long-term plans to the judge. You’ll find that coverage on our Leandro page.

Video transcript

“Leandro” is a decades-long court case in North Carolina.

It began in 1994, when five counties sued the state and State Board of Education.

They argued their students were not receiving a sufficient education.

In response, NC’s Supreme Court found every child has a state constitutional right to a sound, basic education:

  • Classrooms with competent, certified, well-trained teachers
  • Schools led by competent, well-trained principals
  • Resources necessary to support effective instructional programs

In 2004, the same court held that at-risk students, including those needing pre-K, had been denied the right.

In 2016, Judge David Lee was assigned to the case when Judge Howard Manning stepped down after 19 years.

In 2017, Governor Roy Cooper created a commission to address the issue.

In 2018, the court appointed WestEd to recommend specific actions needed by the state to comply with Leandro.

WestEd released its report one year later, detailing the problem and recommending various solutions.

Now, the judge has ordered both sides of the case to present a short-term plan for the state, with more in-depth plans to follow.

Robert Kinlaw

Robert was director of multimedia for EducationNC. He is a journalist and award-winning documentary filmmaker in the Triangle. Robert attended both public and private grade schools in North Carolina and graduated from the Media and Journalism school at UNC-Chapel Hill. He has produced video content for The News & Observer, ABC11-WTVD, UNC-Chapel Hill, The News Reporter and more. His short documentary Princess Warrior received an Excellence in Filmmaking award at the 2017 Carrboro Film Festival. Visit his website at