School staff said changes will take time but no real change has occurred, according to opinion. Ultimately, the three were able to transfer to another school, but Deminski filed a lawsuit in late 2017, citing the education provisions in the North Carolina Constitution. The family asked for damages and an order that the children would never have to return to Lakeforest.
A trial court judge allowed the case to continue, despite arguments from the Pitt County School Board that it was immune from litigation as a government body. The majority of a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals dismissed the case last year, citing a similar case involving the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board and complaints of negligence related to the sexual relationship of a teacher with a high school student.
But Newby said the majority decision of the Court of Appeals would mean that the constitutional guarantee “does not extend beyond an entity providing a solid basic education by providing educational opportunities.”
Instead, the right to education and the state’s duty to protect and maintain that right “extend to circumstances where a school board’s willful indifference to continued harassment prevents children from receiving an education, ”he added.
Lawyers for the Pitt County Board of Directors had argued that there was no constitutional cause of action in cases where school employees had failed to prevent damage caused by a third party.