Case Studies

Leandro Hailed as Landmark Decision

What does real estate have to do with education? The simple answer in North Carolina is location.

Embrace the Challenge: the Right Thing to Do
The state’s formula for funding public education depends in part on the revenues that school districts receive from local real estate taxes, putting low-wealth districts at a financial disadvantage. In 1994, Parker Poe was tapped by officials from six of the state’s poorest school systems to remedy the situation. In a move that gained national attention, Parker Poe attorneys embraced the challenge and pursued the idea of a quality education for all students. Leandro v. State of North Carolina became a national focal point for taxpayers and officials who would soon face similar challenges.

Leandro, named after then Hoke County high school student Robb Leandro, spanned more than a decade of trials, amendments and appeals. Eventually, the North Carolina Supreme Court ruled the state was responsible for providing a sound basic education to all schoolchildren, including at-risk students.

Results: Funding Equality

The tangible results of Leandro were soon visible: initially, low-wealth school districts received about $100 million more funding as a result of the ruling.

“Leandro is a significant economic development issue for our state, one with great significance for the business community. More importantly, providing a sound basic education is the right thing to do for our children.” 
 - Parker Poe attorney Robert Spearman

Judicial compliance safeguards were put in place to ensure all students, no matter where they live, have equal access to a basic education. The remedy phase of the case still lingers, but the state increased funding to low wealth and at-risk students and created the Disadvantaged Student Supplemental Fund (DSSF) which focuses on:

  • Increased salaries and bonuses to attract better teachers and principals  
  • Lower class size in early grades
  • Reading and tutoring programs
  • Tracking standardized test scores, drop-out and graduation rates and the percentage of students moving on to higher education.