Should the Wake County school system still offer the due-process rights that teachers had under tenure even if they can’t officially offer career status to additional educators?
The school board’s policy committee will discuss today how the district will need to modify teacher contracts in light of the changes made by the General Assembly last year that prevent additional teachers from getting career status, called teacher tenure. School leaders are expected to discuss what they can still do to offer the protections that came along with career status.
Since 1971, North Carolina teachers who made it beyond the first four years of a probationary period were granted tenure, which gave them certain protections, including the right to a hearing in the event of dismissal. But the General Assembly had moved to eliminate tenure for all teachers by 2018.
Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood announced in May that he was striking down the portions of last year’s budget that retroactively abolished tenure for teachers who had received career status. He also struck down the requirement that districts offer four-year contracts with bonuses to 25 percent of their teachers.
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But Hobgood left in place the provisions saying that tenure could no longer be provided to teachers who hadn’t yet attained it. The ruling means all teachers without career status are working on one-year contracts. Additionally, teachers who already have tenure in North Carolina will lose it if they transfer to another district in the state.
Hobgood’s ruling is being appealed by both supporters and opponents of last year’s tenure change who disagree with parts of the decision. But in the meantime, districts need to modify their teacher contracts.
Leanne Winner, the chief lobbyist for the N.C. School Boards Association, said the organization has told school boards they can still offer non-tenured teachers the same due-process rights they would have gotten if they had earned career status. If this is done, this means that while those teachers would still be on a one-year contract because of the new law, they’d be able to request a hearing before they’re fired.
School board member Jim Martin, the chairman of the policy committee, said they may need to still offer the due-process protections to additional teachers as a way to be able to competitively recruit educators to work in Wake.
Another agenda topic today is a discussion of the process by which teachers are transferred to different schools in Wake.