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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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State Board of Education

by E. Michael Latta, 2006

See also: General Education Board

The North Carolina Constitution of 1868 established the State Board of Education to provide overall policy direction for programs and services offered through the state's public schools. The board's membership and specific powers and duties have been changed by both constitutional amendments and legislative enactments over the years. In 1943 an act by the state legislature changed the membership of the State Board of Education to the lieutenant governor, the state treasurer, the state superintendent of public instruction, and one member from each congressional district to be appointed by the governor. After years of change and seemingly diminished powers, the board was reaffirmed in its role of overseer of the state's public school system by the 1971 North Carolina Constitution.

In 1986 the General Assembly made another change in the statutes relative to the State Board of Education, authorizing the governor to appoint two student advisers to the board. The fiscal control that the State Board of Education had maintained since 1943 was repealed on 1 Feb. 1989, with those duties transferred to the elected state superintendent of public instruction, who had been the board's administrative officer. This 1988 state statute made it clear, however, that the board would continue to establish the policies controlling the public school system. It remained in the early 2000s the most powerful governmental education board in North Carolina. The modern board consists of the state lieutenant governor, the treasurer, and 11 other members appointed by the governor with General Assembly approval.


E. Michael Latta, The Constitutional and Statutory Development of the State Board of Education and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (1989).

Additional resources:

North Carolina General Assembly. 1943. "An act to amend the Constitution providing for the organization of the State Board of Education." Session Laws. Chapter 468, p. 527. Online at

North Carolina State Board of Education, Department of Public Instruction. Online at:

North Carolina State Constitution. Online at