North Carolina Public School Board and Education Law Attorneys

Tharrington Smith has been a partner to public education in North Carolina for forty years. No other law firm in North Carolina can claim the depth and breadth of experience in school law found at Tharrington Smith. Our attorneys specialize in the unique legal needs of educational institutions, supporting our clients through the day-to-day challenges of providing public education in a complex legal and political landscape. We serve as general counsel for numerous North Carolina school systems, offering special expertise in public and open meetings law, personnel, student services and discipline, civil rights, special education disputes, contracts and public bidding, school funding disputes, school construction and renovation. In addition, we provide specialized litigation services to public school clients and their insurers across the state. We represent our clients in state, federal, and administrative courts, and in complaints and investigations before agencies including the Office for Civil Rights, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Our attorneys, many of whom have been educators or have educators in their families, have a passion for representing schools and educators of our state, and have dedicated their careers to the practice of education law. The unique focus of our education law team allows us to provide well-rounded, experienced representation to educational institutions and school boards statewide. We understand that school boards serve and respond to a broad range of constituencies, including students, parents, teachers, employees and district taxpayers. We provide efficient, cost effective, creative solutions balancing the needs of the entire school community while maintaining solid legal foundations for school boards to rely upon.

Since 1978, we have served as general counsel to the Wake County Board of Education and the North Carolina School Boards Association. Our lawyers have assisted more than 100 school systems across the state with their legal needs. We serve as general counsel for the following school boards: Alamance-Burlington, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Durham Public Schools, Weldon, Nash-Rocky Mount, Roanoke Rapids, and Bertie, Chatham, Cleveland, Currituck, Duplin, Edgecombe, Jones, Lenoir, Northampton, Moore, Orange, Person, Pitt, and Tyrrell counties. We also work jointly with local attorneys to provide specialized legal support to numerous school systems when difficult challenges arise. In addition, our education attorneys have represented several community colleges and private schools in litigation and other matters.

Services & Focus

Special Education

  • Training and consultation
  • Compliance Reviews
  • IEP and 504 meetings
  • Dispute resolution between parents and districts
  • Petitions for due process
  • State complaints
  • Section 504 Compliance

Student Matters

  • Student Discipline
  • Student/Parent Grievances
  • Student Searches & Seizures
  • Seclusion & Restraint
  • Special Education Issues
  • Student Assignment & School Transfers
  • Homeless Students
  • Child Custody Issues
  • FERPA and Student Record Confidentiality Issues
  • Discrimination Claim
  • Office for Civil Rights Investigations


  • Employment Contracts
  • Dismissal Hearings & Appeals
  • Complaints & Grievances
  • Employment Visas & Green Cards

Constitutional Issues

  • Free Speech – Employees
  • Free Speech – Students
  • Search & Seizure – Employees
  • Search & Seizure – Students
  • Due Process – Employees
  • Due Process Issues – Students
  • Religion in Public Schools
  • Consideration of Race in Public Education
  • Sex & Gender Issues

Litigation & Appeals

  • State Court Litigation
  • Federal Court Litigation
  • State Administrative Investigations
  • Federal Administrative Investigations
  • Mediation
  • Trials

School Construction, Purchase & Finance

  • North Carolina’s School Budget and Fiscal Control Act
  • Contract Review & Negotiation
  • School Construction Contracts
  • School Construction Law
  • School Construction Litigation & Claims
  • Public Bidding
  • Pre-Audit Requirements

Open Meetings & Public Records Law

  • North Carolina Open Meetings Law
  • Parliamentary Procedure / Robert’s Rules of Order
  • North Carolina Public Records Law
  • Records Retention Requirements
  • Electronic Records

Policy Review & Drafting

  • Policy Review & Updates
  • Policy Drafting

Tharrington Smith: NC Education Law Attorneys