Under the Dome

June 6, 2014

Judge issues written order in NC teacher tenure lawsuit

The issue of teacher tenure is still being hotly debated, but a Superior Court judge issued an order Friday echoing his recent pronouncement that revoking teachers' tenure rights is unconstitutional.

A judge’s written order in the teacher tenure case was entered in the court on Friday, echoing his ruling last month that the legislature’s attempt to end teacher tenure is unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood’s seven-page order said the legislature’s 2013 repeal of teacher tenure violates two clauses in the constitution relating to contractual and property rights. The judge’s ruling applies only to teachers who had tenure as of July 26 of last year.

The legislature passed a provision in last year’s budget that would revoke career status for all teachers as of 2018. Hobgood’s order said the legislature’s tenure repeal “does not further any public purpose because the undisputed facts demonstrate that, under the Career Status Law, school administrators already have the ability to dismiss career status teachers for inadequate performance whenever necessary.”

The order also put a halt to school districts giving the top 25 percent of teachers four-year contracts worth more money in exchange for relinquishing tenure before 2018 — which the law had mandated.

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, has said the state would move to appeal the Hobgood’s order, which he called “a classic case of judicial activism.”

Since the order last month, the Senate has passed a new budget plan that would offer teachers average raises of 11 percent for teachers willing to give up tenure.

N.C. Association of Educators, which brought the lawsuit against the legislation, issued a statement Friday saying the new budget provision is “clearly in response to our lawsuit and is plainly wrong.”

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