It's now state law that that North Carolina-run colleges, universities and community colleges are prohibited from considering whether a student came from an accredited school when making admissions, scholarship and loan decisions.
The high school accreditation bill became state law Monday when Gov. Bev Perdue opted not to veto the legislation. But Perdue chose not to sign it either.
The law, motivated by the recent fights in Wake and Burke counties, says UNC System schools and community colleges can only consider accreditation if it comes from a state agency. The law directs the state Board of Education to accredit schools when local school districts request it and pay for the costs.
The law had been passed mostly along partisan lines with Republicans backing the bill and Democrats in opposition. But unlike some of the GOP-backed bills that Perdue has vetoed, it may have helped that the UNC System didn't oppose the legislation and the N.C. School Boards Association had backed the legislation.
The new law is aimed at the private nonprofit groups that accredit most of the nation's high schools.
In particular, AdvancED, a Georgia-based group, has warned that it might remove accreditation from high schools in Burke and Wake counties over questions about how both school systems are being governed.
The law goes into effect just as the Burke County school system faces the loss of accreditation for its high schools at the end of the month.
In March, AdvancED accused the Wake school board of regularly violating its own policies as it made key strategic decisions such as eliminating the use of socioeconomic diversity as a factor in student assignment.
The group, which investigated after the state NAACP complained about school board operations, gave Wake a year to make changes. But AdvancED didn't go so far as to tell Wake to restore the diversity policy.
Supporters of the legislation said that AdvancED was getting into matters beyond its purview when it looked at how school systems were being governed instead of just as the academics of the high schools.
The issue going forward is how many school districts will abandon AdvancED in favor of state accreditation. Critics of the new law say only having state accreditation will hurt students applying to colleges outside of North Carolina.