Judge Strikes Down New Teacher Tenure Law

A judge has ruled that a law cutting teacher job protections in North Carolina is unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood said Friday that veteran teachers have an established right to a layer of review beyond school administrators when they face firing.

He says the law passed by Republican lawmakers last year violates constitutional rights that protect contracts and prevents governments from taking a person's property.

North Carolina law for more than 40 years has said veteran teachers cannot be fired or demoted except for a series of listed reasons that include poor performance, immorality and insubordination.

The new law orders school districts to give the best 25 percent of teachers four-year contracts. The teachers would get pay raises totaling $5,000 but lose their tenure rights.

Here's what Onslow County Schools had to say:

Onslow County Schools, May 16, 2014 — Please accept the following as the Board of Education’s response to the Superior Court judge’s ruling striking down the law requiring veteran teachers to surrender their career status rights in exchange for multi-year contracts.
The Board feels this is a victory for its veteran teachers and is happy and relieved it does not have to implement the 25 percent law. A plan was developed, as required by law, and it took many, many hours to try to come up with the fairest plan possible, but hoped all along the legislature would reconsider their decision before they had to implement it.
The Board agrees it was not an appropriate plan to improve public education and reward the best teachers. Instead there was great fear it would seriously undermine collaboration of best practices between teachers and cause much ill will – the district was in a situation where some teachers with the same qualifications would be put in a lottery to determine who would be awarded a contract — the Board feels that is not fair or just.
The board did not agree with the reasoning that career status protects mediocre teachers. It gives them the right to due process – to have a hearing if they are disciplined or fired. A teacher can be terminated for poor performance and for many other reasons.
The Board has been very concerned, if enacted; it will cause district teachers to look for jobs in other states or choose to leave teaching for other careers. And they feared it would be difficult to recruit teachers now and in the future.
In September the board signed a resolution to reinstate advance degree pay schedules and increase teacher and instructional staff salaries to the national average. The Board continues to fully support this resolution.

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