Politics & Government

Wake County schools will close May 1 due to teacher protest in Raleigh

Thousands of educators march in Raleigh and demand respect

On Wednesday May 16, 2018, the opening day of the legislative session, educators and their supporters from across the state traveled to Raleigh to demand more funding for public education.
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On Wednesday May 16, 2018, the opening day of the legislative session, educators and their supporters from across the state traveled to Raleigh to demand more funding for public education.

The Wake County school system is the latest North Carolina school system to announce that classes will be canceled May 1 due to the mass teachers protest planned in Raleigh.

Wake school officials, in announcing the closing Wednesday, cited nearly 2,000 teachers who have requested May 1 off, with the number expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks.

Wake school board chairman Jim Martin said the number of day-off requests far exceed the number of available substitute teachers, “which means we cannot ensure adequate instruction and supervision that day.”

Wake is North Carolina’s largest school district so the decision to cancel classes means more than 160,000 students will not have school May 1.

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The N.C. Association of Educators is encouraging a large statewide turnout to lobby state lawmakers for issues such as expanding Medicaid and providing raises to all school employees.

Other Triangle districts who have announced plans to close May 1 are Durham, Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County.

“This decision is not made lightly,” Martin said Wednesday in Wake’s announcement. “We know that this schedule change puts a burden on families. We also know that our teachers are not taking the day off.

“Instead, they are taking leave from the classroom to advocate for public education, for their students and for your children. I ask that you give them your support.”

State Superintendent Mark Johnson and Senate leader Phil Berger have criticized the decision to hold the protest on a school day, citing how students will miss classroom time. They said students already have lost time because of Hurricane Florence and snow days.

Martin said Wake students won’t need to make up May 1 because they have more than the minimum number of instructional hours required by the state.

By canceling classes, teachers who have requested off May 1 won’t have to pay the normal $50 fee that they’d be charged for a substitute to fill in for the day.

May 1 will now become an optional teacher work day in Wake. Martin said Wake will provide additional information shortly regarding conflicts with individual school events.

Martin told Wake families to check http://bit.ly/May-1-2019 for updates. He said additional information will be sent to staff.

Other districts that have announced plans to close May 1 are Guilford County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and Lexington City Schools.

Last school year, at least 42 of North Carolina’s 115 school districts closed in advance of a protest that brought at least 19,000 protestors to Raleigh.

Related stories from Durham Herald Sun

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