Program had its limitations but generally seen as big step –

Thirty years ago, Willie Monteith’s name hung on the lips of powerful politicians and bureaucrats across the state.

They knew him only as Willie M., the otherwise anonymous Charlotte boy listed as the lead plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that upended state budgets and rewrote mental-health rules.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of violence-prone children with emotional or mental problems, forced officials to spend $744 million over two decades to help them.

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