Education Policy: Helping Clients Improve Educational Opportunities In North Carolina Public Schools
Everett Gaskins Hancock is committed to helping clients improve educational opportunities for students in North Carolina’s public schools. Through creative problem solving and understanding the needs of their clients in and around Raleigh and beyond, the firm’s Education Policy Practice provides innovative approaches to complex issues facing schools.
Counsel And Advice For School Districts In Raleigh And Beyond
Attorney Gerry Hancock manages this practice for the firm, working closely with school leaders and nonprofit organizations throughout North Carolina. The education practice draws on the expertise of other attorneys in the firm for litigation and other professional services.
The firm’s services include legal representation and counsel to school districts, school district collaborations, education associations, nonprofit organizations, philanthropy, and business groups working to improve public education in North Carolina and expand opportunities for all children.
Gerry and/or the firm have represented many organizations that work for improved public education and expanded opportunities for children. Among these are:
- Low Wealth Schools Consortium of North Carolina
- North Carolina PTA
- The Innovation Project
- North Carolina Education Corps
- Strategic Twin-Counties Education Partnership
- North Carolina Alliance for School Leadership Development
- North Carolina Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center
Gerry and the firm have represented the Low Wealth Schools Consortium since its inception in 1992. The Consortium is comprised of the 70+ “low wealth” school districts, i.e., those with local tax capacity below the state average. In that time, the Consortium with the firm’s help has provided essential leadership to sustain public education.
Landmark Litigation With School Equity Case: Leandro v. NC
In 1994, Gerry helped five Consortium districts organize and file the landmark litigation known as Leandro v. NC., one of the nation’s longest-running and most successful school equity cases. In 1997, the State Supreme Court, in a Leandro ruling, reversed prior law and held that every child has an individual right to a high-quality “sound basic education” sufficient to prepare her or him for the competitive world of work or for higher education.
Also in Leandro v. NC., Gerry and the firm coordinated efforts to secure a massive Court- ordered evidence-based study to document the state actions and funding required to assure that every child will have a meaningful opportunity to receive the “sound basic education” required by the State Constitution. That study was commissioned by the Court, and it served as the basis for the Trial Court’s current enforcement orders.
The Leandro case is still active, and is the primary driver of public school improvement in North Carolina. On behalf of the Low Wealth Schools Consortium, Gerry and the firm continue to support and advise the litigation team.
In the recent challenge to the Trial Court’s enforcement orders in the North Carolina Supreme Court, Gerry and the firm organized an amicus brief submitted by 53 top business leaders in support of the Trial Court rulings. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the Trial Court’s enforcement rulings and reiterated its firm support for the Constitutional right of all children to a sound basic education.
In addition to serving clients directly with a range of professional services, Gerry Hancock organized and led, as Founding Board Chair, several creative and influential nonprofits, including the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research, the Public School Forum of North Carolina, EducationNC, and The Innovation Project (a collaboration of 25 school districts). For these contributions, Gerry has been awarded the Lifetime Champion of Justice Award by the North Carolina Justice Center and Peabody Award by the University of North Carolina School of Education.