Judge Howard Manning steps away from Leandro

Published October 21, 2016

by Melissa Broughton, NC Policy Watch, October 20, 2016.

Judge Howard Manning will no longer oversee Leandro v. State, the landmark education lawsuit that he has presided over for nearly 20 years.

Manning made a request to be removed from the case, and Chief Justice Mark Martin reassigned it on Oct. 7 to Emergency Superior Court Judge David Lee, according to Sharon Gladwell, communications director at the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts. She did not return two follow up emails and a message seeking more information and a formal court filing.

Melanie Dubis, who represents the plaintiffs in Leandro, and Mark Dorosin, an attorney working on the case for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, said Thursday that they had no knowledge of the development and therefore could not comment.

Both expressed shock over the news and concern that they hadn’t been notified. Solicitor General John Maddrey also did not return a message seeking comment about the case.

Jane Wettach, director of the children’s law clinic at Duke University, said she also had not been informed about the change of judgeship. She said she is not familiar with Lee’s work.

“Judges and their personalities and the way they handle things makes a big difference and it certainly could change the course of things, but how it might is really difficult for me to say without knowing anything about Judge Lee,” she said.

Lee retired Feb. 1 from District 20B in Union County in Monroe, though his term doesn’t expire until 2018. He had either been practicing law or on the bench for more than 40 years, but there isn’t much more information readily available about his work. Lee’s clerk, Jessica Mangum, said Thursday that he was not immediately available for comment. She said his office received an order from the Chief Justice via email that had been signed Oct. 7.

Manning retired in July 2015, but continued to preside over hearings related to compliance with Leandro, which he was originally assigned to in 1997 by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell. Efforts to reach Manning were not successful.

Leandro requires that all North Carolina students have a right to a “sound, basic education.” The case has also been the flashpoint for debates about early childhood programs for at-risk kids and the call for more services and support for low income schools.

Wettach said the most remarkable thing to her about Manning’s handling of the case was just how long it went on and “his continued need for having hearings and new information but not really making much in the way of decisions along the way.”

“My guess is another superior court judge could not take it on thinking I’m going to monitor this for the next 20 years,” she said. “That’s just a guess though.”

She added that Lee’s appointment could either mean the case will be closed or it could mean real change is coming.

“I would hope for some orders that have some meaning to them, substantive meaning, that really force the state to do things that will implement the Supreme Court’s message that everyone’s entitled to a sound basic education, and that usually means resources and programs,” she said. “That’s what needs to be done, and they’ve just been sort of circling around it for so many years with not a lot to show for it.”



October 22, 2016 at 10:24 am
Norm Kelly says:

First, know that there is ALWAYS a point of diminishing returns. Have we reached that point? Not sure. Can't tell. But with that fact in mind, note that it also applies to government monopoly schools.

What should the new judge do, different from what Manning did?

History has shown that the whine, the only whine, of lib pols does not work: spend more money on gov't monopoly schools. No matter the increases in spending, the result has been negligible. At best. So, should the judge order even more gov't spending? To what end? To satisfy libs? That's not likely!

History has also shown that even more gov't spending/programs for low-income children has little to zero effect/affect. The crooked Gov Mike wanted to be known as the Education Governor. So, he implemented More At Four. What did it accomplish? It spent a lot of gov't money. Like Smart Start, it proved less than revolutionary or life changing for the vast majority of kids. By third grade, the differences between special programs for infants and non-special programs kids virtually disappeared. So, does this gov't spending prove the programs are worthwhile or not? Non-libs, those with logical thinking skills in tact, instead of relying on emotions, know that this additional gov't expenditure has limited to zero success. Yet, the only whine coming from libs, pols as well as educators, is 'spend more!'. Even when record salary increases for teachers are implemented, libs are still unsatisfied, and can only whine that even more needs to be spent! Remember, though, that the last group to actually CUT gov't monopoly spending was the very LIBS who are now whining that not enough has been done.

Here's one for libs: how about trying something new and different. Something NO LIB supports or believes could ever work. But has shown in the vast majority of cases to actually work. Give parents choice. Not the fake, make-believe, try-to-make-people-feel-good choice that libs present. But actual real financially relevant choice. You know like vouchers. Like trying what the Republican-majority Wake County school board tried - letting kids go to the school closest to home as much as practicable. Some parents choose where to live based on the schools in the neighborhood/relative proximity. What do libs do with this idea? What did demon pols do the instant they took over the Wake school board? Eliminate local school options. Libs believe they KNOW BEST on every issue that involves children. The Wake school board libs did it and continue to do it. Listen to Hildaliar, if you can believe what she says, and you will know that all libs/socialists believe they know what's best for you & especially your kids, and that THEY should make decisions for your kids, you should NOT be allowed to make choices for your kids. Taking control away from lib pols is punishable by law. Think about their idea to prevent disagreement with their scam on global climate change. They want to be able to prosecute thinkers; for simply knowing the facts and that the facts are against libs/socialists.

Everything lib is destructive and harmful to the majority! Especially harmful to our children.