CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - There is already fallout from state lawmakers passing controversial House Bill 514. One leader says it's the educational version of the "bathroom bill," House Bill 2.
Keith Poston, President of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, says NC is back in the news, but this time for lawmakers passing a bill that some say will re-segregate schools. The bill allows four predominately white towns to open their own charter schools that will be exclusively for the students who live in those towns.
"It's going to look like that - we are embracing a return to segregation," Poston said. "And that kind of image would be damaging, particularly at a time when we are successful right now trying to recruit some companies that have been looking the other way because of the HB2 debacle."
Poston worries North Carolina doesn't need another controversial item to chase business away.
"When you are in a competitive economic development situation, everything matters," Poston said.
Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jim Puckett supports House Bill 514. He says the intent is not about race but more to do with parents taking control of the kids' education and sending Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) District a message.
"This notion that [House Bill] 514 somehow segregates schools... the towns of Huntersville and Matthews are not white-only enclaves. They don't limit who can live there," Puckett said. "They are simply saying you are not building schools in our area - we are going to have an option to do it since you are not."
Poston says supporters of the bill may not have been thinking this bill would cause problems, but that doesn't matter.
"The intention behind the bill is irrelevant," Poston said. "The facts and the maps speak for themselves. This is going to drive segregation and re-segregation of schools - that's just a fact."
Puckett believes the bill might help bring business to North Carolina.
"It actually makes it attractive, I think, to businesses who move to the suburbs because now they know they're not captured by way of an irresponsible board of education," Puckett said.
NC Governor Roy Cooper is also speaking out against House Bill 514. He calls it alarming and thinks it will cause towns to raise taxes to support the town charters and will re-segregate schools.
"I continue to advocate for our state," Cooper said. "I do believe we are an inclusive and diverse state, and I believe we can show people across the country, and the world for that matter, our hearts are in the right place."
Cooper and others hope there will be time to repeal House Bill 514 before they say it will have a negative effect on the state.