North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction

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North Carolina

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The North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction is an elected executive position in the North Carolina state government. The superintendent is the secretary and chief administrative officer of the State Board of Education, and is responsible for the day-to-day management of the state's public school system.

Current officeholder

The current officeholder is June St. Clair Atkinson. She was first elected in 2004, re-elected in 2008, and is up for re-election in 2012.


The state Constitution establishes the office of superintendent of public instruction in Article III, Section 7:

(1) Officers. A Secretary of State, an Auditor, a Treasurer, a Superintendent of Public Instruction, an Attorney General, a Commissioner of Agriculture, a Commissioner of Labor, and a Commissioner of Insurance shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State in 1972 and every four years thereafter, at the same time and places as members of the General Assembly are elected. Their term of office shall be four years and shall commence on the first day of January next after their election and continue until their successors are elected and qualified. ...


Article VI, Section 6 of the North Carolina Constitution establishes the qualifications of the office:

Every qualified voter in North Carolina who is 21 years of age, except as in this Constitution disqualified, shall be eligible for election by the people to office.
  • qualified North Carolina voter
  • 21 years of age


The superintendent of public instruction in North Carolina is popularly elected every four years, in presidential election years. The superintendent of schools, barring any vacancies, will be elected in 2012, 2016, and 2020. The term of office is four years, and begins on the first day of January next after their election.


Article III, Section 7 addresses vacancies in the office of superintendent of schools. In the event of a vacancy, the governor appoints a successor who will serve until a new officeholder is elected. The election coincides with the first election for members of the General Assembly that occurs more than 30 days after the seat becomes vacant.


The Department of Public Instruction, with the superintendent at its helm, manages the daily operations of the state's entire public school system. The department has a staff of nearly 750 people that is directly involved in the education of North Carolina's students, leading the public schools in the areas of curriculum and instruction, accountability, finance, teacher and administrator preparation and licensing, professional development, and school business support and operations.[1]

In addition to ensuring the education of North Carolina's children, and the office is responsible for:

  • enforcing North Carolina's state education laws
  • implementing State Board of Education policies and procedures
  • managing public school funds totaling approximately $8 billion in state and federal funds
  • licensing the almost 120,000 public school teachers and administrators
  • collaborating with the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching, the NC Teacher Academy, the NC virtual Public School, the nine Regional Education Service Alliances/Consortia, and the state's 115 local education agencies.[1]

2012 ballot measure

North Carolina State Board of Education Amendment (2012)

A 2012 proposed legislatively-referred constitutional amendment would shift some of the authority from the Board of Education to the elected superintendent. Specifically, the board would become an advisory panel. Eight of the 11 board members would be chosen by the House speaker and Senate president.[2] In order to qualify the measure for the ballot, the proposal must be approved by a 60% vote of each house of the North Carolina State Legislature. The current state constitution gives the Board of Education the authority supervise and administer public schools and the superintendent is named as the board's chief administrative officer and secretary.


The Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education share responsibility for the public education system. Much of the administrative support comes from the board, which includes an executive director, staff attorney, and legislative liaison. Within the authority of the superintendent, there are four main divisions:

  • The Organizational Support division manages public relations, human resources, policy and strategic planning, and communications for the entire department.
  • The Financial and Business Services division is responsible for the financial management and licensing. The Office of Charter Schools also falls under the purview of this division.
  • The Academic Services and Instructional Support division directly administers the state's educational programs. The Curriculum, Instruction, Accountability, and Technology Services Office within the division provides career-technical education, exceptional children instructional technology, K-12 curriculum and instruction, and early learning programs.[3]


In 2010, the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction was paid an estimated $123,198 according to the Council of State Governments.[4]

Contact information

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
North Carolina

301 North Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27601

Phone: 919-807-3300

Contact information for all departments

See also

External links

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