On June 14, 2022, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling following an en banc review of the earlier 4th Circuit ruling in Peltier v. Charter Day School. Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, and Rhonda Dillingham, Executive Director of the North Carolina Association for Public Charter Schools, issued the following statement.
“We applaud the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s en banc decision today in Peltier v. Charter Day School, holding that charter schools are, in fact, state actors for federal equal protection purposes. We believe this is the right outcome, one that’s supported by both caselaw and statute.
“The importance of this case could not be overstated, as it was the first time a federal appellate court considered whether public charter school students deserve the same constitutional civil rights protections as district public school students. The en banc court clearly and unequivocally affirmed that charter schools are public schools and, accordingly, must be bound by the US Constitution. Moreover, public charter school students have the same constitutional and civil rights as their district public school peers.
“As is the case with most appellate court decisions, this ruling provides North Carolina charter schools with the clarity they need regarding both their status and constitutional obligations. In fact, as the National Alliance outlined in our amicus brief in support of en banc review, the North Carolina charter statute not only compels this outcome but the statute mirrors the substantive provisions in charter statutes around the country.
“Today’s decision crosses state lines – inside and beyond the 4th Circuit. It confirms what charter advocates, charter schools, and, most importantly, charter families around the country know: charter school students are public school students and must be protected under the U.S. Constitution.”