School board to decide teacher tenure course

Mar. 05, 2014 @ 11:58 AM

The school board could decide as early as today whether to join litigation challenging a new state law that requires school districts to offer four-year contracts to 25 percent of their teachers in exchange for a waiver of tenure rights.

The board has called a special meeting for 3 p.m., during which it is expected to consider whether to join a lawsuit the Guildford County school board is expected to file soon.

Durham School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said the board could also consider whether to pursue its own lawsuit.

“Those seem like to me the two main options,” Carter said in an interview.

The Guilford County school board has called the law unconstitutional, vowed not to comply and directed the superintendent to file a lawsuit seeking relief from the Republican-backed legislation.

It plans to seek a declaratory judgment that invalidates the law so that it is not held legally liable for not complying.

Last week, the board authorized Carter to work with the attorney for the N.C. Association of Educators and to provide an affidavit supporting the association’s lawsuit to maintain the tenure rights of teachers.

It also authorized the school board’s attorney to ask the Guildford County Board school board attorney if it would be “helpful or practical” for Durham to join any lawsuit it might file against state legislation requiring school districts to offer contracts to 25 percent of their teachers.

The board adopted a resolution opposing the law in December.

“I think the 25 percent legislation is a bad law and had numerous consequences in a negative way,” Carter said.

Meanwhile, hundreds of Durham Public Schools’ teachers have signed letters pledging not to accept the contracts, as opposition to the contracts and the end of teacher tenure continues to grow.

The Wake County school board adopted a resolution Tuesday night asking the General Assembly to repeal the law that Republican backers contend will make it easier for school districts to get rid of bad teachers.

Teachers throughout DPS and across the state contend the law is divisive because it pits teachers against each other in a competition for four-year contracts and modest bonuses.
They also complain that the law eliminates current job protections and certain due-process rights, and is one of several recent policy decisions that have devalued the teaching profession in North Carolina.
Other such decisions, they contend, include the elimination of teaching fellows, the elimination of extra pay for advanced degrees and the lack of any substantial pay increase over the past several years.

Under the law, Durham would offer contracts to 355 of its eligible employees – 292 of them teachers and the rest members of the district’s support staff.