Friday, 16 March 2018 15:08

NAACP blasts Qualls for comments on school lawsuit expense

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The Halifax County Chapter of the NAACP today criticized comments made by Commissioner Patrick Qualls Monday on the rising cost of legal fee associated with a lawsuit brought on by the organization and others.

Arguments in Silver versus the Halifax County Board of Commissioners are expected to be heard in the state Supreme Court next month. Other plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was dismissed on the state appeals and local court level are the Coalition for Education and Economic Security and three parents and guardians within the county school system.

“Patrick Qualls’ hypocrisy in lamenting the cost of defending the Silver v. Halifax County Commissioners just reached a new level on the outrageous meter,” chapter President David Harvey said in a statement. “The main reason the board of county commissioners is the defendant in this lawsuit is that it never acted on its own Evergreen Solutions Report and instead ignored recommendations which could have saved the county over $10 million dollars.”  Harvey said all six commissioners continue to support “a wasteful model of three separate school districts and administrative systems to deliver K-12 public education to just over 6,000 students. Each year they perpetuate the status quo despite knowing it is grossly inefficient and extends a pernicious racial segregation in Halifax County.”

Said Harvey: “This wasteful structure produces dismal results on end of grade test scores. Taxpayers and students are the victims of the commissioners’ decision-making. And it is the commissioners who have decided to defend the status quo and, in the process, run up the legal fees for the county all the while keeping annual local education funding for our schools at shamelessly low levels for decades.”

However, Harvey said, “it is not simply his hypocrisy voters should worry about, but Commissioner Qualls’ disdain for the legal process. For Qualls to dismiss the lawsuit as ‘something silly’ ignores the compelling arguments presented by Chief Judge Linda McGee in her powerful dissent at the appeals court.

“He also says the ‘(North Carolina) Constitution is clear on this.’ The fact that Silver v. Halifax County is now pending before the North Carolina Supreme Court is the best evidence that this  matter is not quite so simple, even though Mr. Qualls might wish it so.”

The commissioner’s comments came after a presentation on school funding during Monday’s board meeting presented by Bill Hodge of CEES.

Qualls told Hodge following his presentation the lawsuit initiated by CEES has cost the county nearly $50,000 in legal fees thus far. “That’s money that could have possibly been spent on education and not silly lawsuits. It’s going to continue to go up.”

Qualls had no immediate comment when reached today.



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