North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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REPLY TO: Thomas J. Ziko Education Section

(919) 733-7387 FAX: (919) 715-0288

July 2, 1999

Karen F. Gerringer, Director North Carolina Principal Fellows Program

P.O. Box 2688 Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688

Re Advisory Opinion; Principal Fellows Commission’s Authority to Approve School Administrator Programs at Private Higher Education Institutions; G.S. § 116-74.42

Dear Ms. Gerringer:

On behalf of the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program (the Program), you wrote on May 14, 1999, to request our opinion as to whether the Principal Fellows Commission (the Commission), acting under N.C. Gen. Stat. §116-74.42, can approve school administrator programs at private higher education institutions. In our opinion, the Commission has broad authority under G.S. § 116-74.42 to approve school administrator programs at private institutions and to permit persons enrolled in such programs to participate in the Program.

The Program is a financial aid program which provides a two-year scholarship loan to persons who may be eligible to be selected as school administrators in North Carolina public schools. N.C. Gen. Stat. §116-74.42 (a), (c), and (e) provide in pertinent part that:

(a)
A Principal Fellows Program shall be administered by the North Carolina Principal Fellows Commission in collaboration with the State Education Assistance Authority. . . .
(c)
. . . Approved programs are those chosen by the Commission from among school administrator programs within the State. . . .
(e)
The Commission shall develop and administer the Principal Fellows Program in cooperation with school administrator programs at institutions approved by the Commission. The Commission shall develop criteria and a process for the approval of campus program sites. . . .

Furthermore, pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 116-19, the State Education Assistance

Karen F. Gerringer July 2, 1999 Page 2

Authority, which administers the financial aspects of the Program, is expressly authorized to administer programs with private institutions.

Pursuant to G.S. § 116-74.6 (1998), the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina is required to establish nine school administrator programs within the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina. But G.S. § 116-74.41(a) expressly provides that the Commission is to exercise its powers and duties separate from the Board of Governors. In this respect, the Commission exercises authority similar to the Teaching Fellows Commission (G.S. 115C-363.22) which exercises its authority independent of the State Board of Education and the Department of Public Instruction and has historically awarded scholarship loans to students attending private institutions. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that the General Assembly intended to limit the Commission’s authority to approving programs on the campuses of constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina.

Words in statutes are generally given their ordinary meaning. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co.

v. Clayton, 266 N.C. 687, 147 S.E.2d 195 (1966). The statutory language quoted above specifically authorizes the Commission to independently administer the Program “at institutions approved by the Commission.” G.S. § 116-74.42(e). While the statute does state that the approved programs must be “within the State” (G.S. § 116-74.42(c)), the statute does not restrict the Commission’s authority to approving school administrator programs on the campuses of public institutions or prohibit the Commission from approving similar programs on the campuses of private institutions.

Therefore, it is our opinion, that the Commission may approve school administrator programs at private institutions and the Commission may award scholarship loans to qualified persons in such approved private programs.

Very truly yours,

Grayson G. Kelley Senior Deputy Attorney General

Thomas J. Ziko Special Deputy Attorney General

cc: Steve Brooks Betsy Bunting