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Questions remain on NERSBA applicant status

While the legal fate of the Beaufort County Board of Education’s attempt to withdraw from participation in the Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology and Agriscience still hangs in the balance in Martin County Superior Court, so too does the status of 11 students who have applied and been accepted to NERSBA for the 2018-19 school year.

Under the terms of a preliminary injunction against the Beaufort County Board of Education, signed by Superior Court Judge Walter Godwin on June 25, the school system is prevented from taking any action regarding withdrawal from NERSBA until the court renders a final decision.

Under the terms of the injunction, the document is meant to, “preserve the status quo of the Defendant’s full participation in Plaintiff during the pendency of this action”

The injunction further states, “as a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s actions, Plaintiff would suffer irreparable harm by being deprived of students from Beaufort County for the 2018-2019 school year, including 11 Beaufort County students who have applied and been conditionally accepted to Plaintiff, and expected funding from Defendant.”

While the court will ultimately decide if withdrawal is permissible under the terms of the North Carolina law allowing for creation of regional schools, the N.C. General Assembly will also be taking a second look at the regional school model.

Under the terms of the state budget passed earlier this year, the Joint Legislative

Education Oversight Committee is tasked with studying the current law to determine whether a withdrawal process should be added to the statute. The deadline for the committee to make a recommendation on the matter is Jan. 19, 2019.

In the meantime, the law states that, “No participating unit in an approved regional school currently operating in the State shall withdraw from the regional school unless the General Assembly, following the review and recommendations of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, provides a statutory process for such withdrawal.”

According to BCS Interim Superintendent Mark Doane, the school system is awaiting further instructions from its attorney as the case proceeds. Attempts to reach NERSBA Principal Hal Davis were not returned as of press time.