Although public education is a state function, the state legislature cannot attend to the day-to-day operation of schools. The General Assembly carries out its duty to provide for a general and uniform system of free public schools primarily by appropriating money and in part by delegating decision-making authority to North Carolina’s 115 school administrative units, each of which is governed by its own board of education.
There are 100 county boards of education and 15 that govern city school systems, as well as a number of other specialty school systems, including the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and the Department of Defense Schools serving military dependents.
The General Statutes confer corporate status on the local board of education, which means that the board has a legal existence separate and apart from its members. A local board of education is an entity that can sue and be sued, purchase and condemn property, and receive money and goods in its corporate name.
Although individual board members may express independent views, the board must act as a unit. As a general rule, no single member, committee, or group of board members may act on behalf of the board except by decision of the majority, meeting in an official session called and conducted according to the provisions of the statutes that created the board and govern its operation.
In granting corporate status, G.S. 115C-40 also provides that, except for powers specifically given to the State Board of Education, other authorized agency, or school official, the local board has authority over all public school matters in its administrative unit.