Could community leaders or CMS sue state over House Bill 514?

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Former Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) Board Chair and current Chair of the Charlotte Black Political Caucus Arthur Griffin called House Bill 514 "morally reprehensible" Wednesday morning.

Griffin called together other former CMS school board chairs, school board members and clergy to hold a press conference to bring attention to controversial House Bill 514.

"We are going to do what we need to do to stop this," Griffin said. "This is institutional racism."

Griffin showed a map that listed the percentage of the how many whites live in the four towns that want to create a charter school district. The map shows Cornelius has an 84% white population, Matthews 78%, Huntersville 77% and Mint Hill 73%.

"To have a charter school that specifically limits your attendance to kids who live in that community when it is a predominately white community," Griffin said. "Really crosses the line for me."

The people who showed up at the press conference Wednesday believe House Bill 514 will roll back time and re-segregate schools and create schools that have and schools that have not. The concern is the four towns wanting a charter school have the resources to establish well-funded schools. If those resources leave, other schools could be left to struggle.

Former CMS School Board Chair Dr. Wilhelmenia Rembert says House Bill 514 reminds her of the case Plessy vs. Ferguson.

"The separate but equal doctrine later ruled as unconstitutional," Rembert said. "It was not good in 1896 and it's not good in 2018."

The group says if House Bill 514 passes the General Assembly, they believe an option should be to sue the state.  They are serious about following that course.

"Somebody got to represent the have-nots," Former CMS School Board Chair Bishop George Battle, Jr. said.

The question was asked could CMS step up and sue the state over House Bill 514. We asked the current CMS school board member who was present at the press conference.

"I am willing to bring it up to my colleagues to see what their appetite is," CMS At-Large School Board Member Ericka Ellis-Stewart said. "But I think we do have to take a stronger stance against something that we all feel very strongly against."

Lawmakers have repeatedly said House Bill 514 was not about race but about giving parents choice when it comes to educating their children. WBTV reached out to bill sponsor Rep. Bill Brawley for comment, but he has not returned our calls.

Matthews Mayor Paul Bailey is for House Bill 514. WBTV reached out to him and he says the town of Matthews is working on a statement to address claims of race.

People at the press conference say when it comes to schools and providing a quality education for students it's time for unity not division.

"If something is broken, let's fix it," Battle said. "We don't have to do it by creating a new system - let's fix this system right here."

House Bill 514 did pass the Senate Monday night, the bill now heads to the House.

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