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State Supreme Court drops hard Feb. 1 deadline for changes to school funding

Published: Nov. 5, 2015 at 8:21 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2015 at 8:25 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The South Carolina Supreme Court has dropped its order for the General Assembly to come up with a plan to address long-standing funding issues in poor, rural school districts by Feb. 1.

The Supreme Court made the order on Thursday as part of the ongoing saga of the Abbeville County School District lawsuit that claimed the state was not providing better funding for rural school districts.

The plaintiffs won that ruling, and the Supreme Court ordered the state to begin finding a new method to funding the state's education system. In September, justices proclaimed the legislature had until Feb. 1 to come up with a plan.

Powerful legislators and attorneys for the governor's office asked the Supreme Court to abandon the hard deadline saying justices were interfering in the job of the legislature.

They filed paperwork saying never in state history has the Supreme Court "attempted such a complete usurpation of the legislative and executive branches' constitutionally conferred rights."

As a result, the Supreme Court backtracked on their earlier decision and said now the legislature must submit a written summary to the courts detailing their efforts to "implement a constitutionally compliant education system" one week before the end of the 2016 legislative session in June.

House Speaker Jay Lucas praised the justices' decision, calling it a "victory for South Carolina students, our Constitution, and the legislative process."

"It proves that judicial overreach will not prevail in South Carolina," Lucas said in a statement. "All branches of government should collectively work together within their constitutional authority, not overstep bounds in an effort to exert political clout."

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