115C-407.31. Administrative remedies and cause of action for complaints regarding exercise of religious activity.

(a) The local board of education may establish or make available an existing formal grievance process to allow students or the parents or guardians of students to present allegations that a right established under this Article has been violated by a public school. The formal grievance process shall include the right of appeal to the local board of education.

(b) If a local board of education fails to provide a formal grievance process, the following process shall be provided:

(1) A student or a student's parent or guardian shall state the complaint to the school's principal, who shall meet with the student or the student's parent or guardian, if requested.

(2) If the student's concerns are not resolved by the meeting with the principal, the student or student's parent or guardian may make a complaint in writing to the superintendent of the local school administrative unit with the specific facts of the alleged violation. The superintendent shall investigate and take appropriate action to ensure the alleged violation of the rights of the student is resolved within 30 days of receiving the written complaint.

(3) If the superintendent fails to resolve the student's concerns within 30 days, the student or student's parent or guardian may appeal to the local board of education as provided in G.S. 115C-45.

(c) If a right of a student established under this Article is violated by a public school and the student has exhausted the administrative remedies provided in this section, the student may assert the violation as a cause of action or defense in a judicial proceeding and obtain appropriate relief against the local board of education. The action shall be brought in the superior court of the county in which the local school administrative unit is located.

(d) No action may be maintained pursuant to this Article unless the student has exhausted the administrative remedies provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section.

(e) A student prevailing in a claim brought against a local school administrative unit for a violation under this Article or any action brought by a public school against a student for conduct covered by this Article shall be entitled to reasonable attorneys' fees and court costs.

(f) The Attorney General shall intervene and shall provide legal defense of this Article in any action which includes claims challenging the constitutionality of this Article. (2014-13, s. 1.)