The Cleveland County Schools have long resisted saying a Prayer at the beginning of their Board Meetings. They said it was because they are afraid of lawsuits, that the prayer may be unconstitutional. Like we have a bunch of Constitutional Scholars on the School Board.
But the same greedy bunch didn’t hesitate one second to joining in with 33 other counties to file a lawsuit against North Carolina officials based on law that invoked an additional $50 surcharge above and beyond the proscribed and normal fines, fees and costs paid by motorists who were convicted of driving with improper equipment. You know, tag lights that are out, improperly tinted windows and such. And where proceeds from this surcharge went to offset running of county jail systems. The law with the surcharge was passed in 2011 and has resulted in $300,000 being collected in Cleveland County and $46 million all across North Carolina since 2011.
What happened next is this. Recently the Richmond County (NC) Board of Education, acting alone, filed a lawsuit stating that the North Carolina Constitution has a provision, with a history that goes way back even before the Civil War, that all revenues from court fines and forfeitures go to the local school boards and that sending this improper equipment surcharge to the State for offsetting county jail costs was unconstitutional. The NC Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 a few months ago in favor of Richmond County and the State officials have been ordered to return Richmond County’s part of the surcharges to the Clerk of Superior Court of Richmond County for payment to the Richmond County School Board.
Well, the greedy Cleveland County school board and 33 other greedy county school boards represented by the same lawyers figure this is “easy money” that they also want for themselves. So the thirty four counties filed a joint lawsuit against the same state officials that Richmond County sued wanting their piece of the action too. They are likely to win. Eventually the other 65 counties will probably also get in on this action too.
Cleveland County school board members think this is a win-win situation and they will soon get some “free” money and everybody will be happy. They forget, as they always do, that money doesn’t grow on trees. They forget that the money raised for jails has already been spent. They forget that the NC General Assembly has already funded the schools at record levels. They forget that if the jails have to give back the money that was intended for the jails, the NC officials will have to come up with the money from “somewhere else.” And “somewhere else” is always the taxpayers.
None of this money was ever intended to go to the schools, but ALL school boards want this money because they are bureaucracies and all bureaucracies exist to spend as munch money as they can get their hands on. That is what bureaucracies always do. I am sure Cleveland County Schools already have figured ways to waste this additional money that will add nothing to the education of our children.
But, there is a huge but hidden surprise here that nobody wants to talk about.