School officials pleased with teacher tenure ruling
Durham schools officials celebrated the news Friday that a Wake County judge declared the effort in the General Assembly to end “career status” for North Carolina teachers unconstitutional.
Judge Robert Hobgood ordered a permanent injunction against the Republican-backed law that required school districts to offer 25 percent of teachers contracts and $500 bonuses to those who agreed to give up “career status” early, before 2018 when it would end for all teachers.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by the N.C. Association of Educators (NCAE) and six teachers, challenging the law that would strip teachers with “career status” of certain rights such as the right to a hearing if they were dismissed.
“I know that educators across the state are ecstatic about Judge Hobgood’s ruling in favor of NCAE's lawsuit on the constitutionality of ending career status and offering 25 percent contracts, said Andrea Underwood, president of the Durham Association of Educators. “This victory was a collaborative effort of teachers, parents, students, school board and community members organizing to support the Decline to Sign campaign.
Supporters of the law said it is needed to help school districts get rid of bad teachers.
But Friday’s ruling was the second major defeat for the law, which supporters contend is need to help school districts get rid of bad teachers.
The first defeat came last month when Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton granted a preliminary injunction, relieving Durham and Guilford county school districts of the burden of identifying 25 percent of their teachers to award contracts in exchange for giving up tenure or career status by June 30.
The two school districts, like the NCAE, had challenged the constitutionality of the law.
School board Chairwoman Heidi Carter said the news regarding Hobgood’s ruling was “fantastic news for school districts across the state.”
She said the law was disruptive to public education, divided teachers and was demoralizing to the teaching profession.
“We’re glad the judge agreed with us about that,” Carter said.
Underwood said she hopes Friday’s victory for North Carolina teachers is a sign of better days to come.
“I hope this is the first of several wins for public education in North Carolina, as we're still ranked 46th in the nation in teacher pay and per-pupil funding,” Underwood said.