Pitt, Lenoir, and Craven Counties joining other school districts in funding lawsuit

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Pitt, Lenoir, and Craven County Board of Educations voted to join a lawsuit started by other districts in the state for misappropriated funds during meetings Monday. Teh boards voted to do so unanimously.

The lawsuit involves where the funds collected from improper equipment offenses go. Improper equipment fines are $50, and are accessed to drivers for infractions like having unsafe tires and illegal window tinting.

Pitt County Schools estimate they could receive around $200,000 from unpaid improper equipment fines over the past three years. Lenoir County Schools estimate they could get around $150,000.

Pitt County Schools Superintendent Dr. Ethan Lenker said those funds could make a big difference.

“We monitor our technology budget and our textbook budget closely, and $200,000 would certainly affect those budgets immensely,” Lenker said.

Craven County Board of Education joined the lawsuit Tuesday evening after meeting with their attorney.

Earlier this year, the Richmond County Board of Education brought forward the lawsuit to the state appeals court, which ruled funds raised by improper equipment offenses had to go to help fund public schools. However, each individual county will have to decide whether to join this lawsuit for their schools.

Before the ruling, state law directed the fines be added to the State Misdemeanor Confinement Fund, but later, the Court of Appeals said it was a punitive fine that fell under “fines and forfeitures.” Because of that, the money was required to return to the county to be used for public schools.

Board of Educations in Onslow and Beaufort counties have not discussed whether they will join the lawsuit. The Carteret County Board of Education is monitoring the situation, but has not made a final decision.


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