Thousands of educators march in Raleigh and demand respect
More than 700,000 North Carolina public school students will not have classes on May 1 because so many teachers and other school employees have requested the day off to protest in Raleigh.
Bertie County Schools announced on Saturday that it will close May 1 to allow the district’s teachers “to have a voice at the State level.” The decision means at least 22 school districts, including all five of the state’s largest school systems — Wake County, Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Guilford County, Winston-Salem/Forsyth and Cumberland — now have May 1 off.
On Thursday, Brunswick County, Cumberland County, Hoke County, Johnston County and Iredell-Statesville Schools announced they’d close on May 1. On Wednesday, Hickory City Schools, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools and Pitt County Schools all announced they’d be closed May 1.
It’s mostly traditional public schools that have announced they’re closing, but some charter schools are canceling classes too, including Raleigh Charter High School and Central Park School For Children in Durham.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system announced last week it was closing May 1. The announcement came a day after Wake County, the only North Carolina district larger than CMS, also decided to cancel May 1 classes.
Thousands of teachers from across the state are expected to come to the capital city to lobby state lawmakers on issues such as expanding Medicaid and giving all school employees a raise. The march, organized by the N.C. Association of Educators, is a repeat of last year’s protest on May 16 that brought at least 19,000 teachers to the capital.
Because of expected teacher absences, several North Carolina school districts have announced they will close on May 1, saying it will now be an optional teacher workday. The 22 announced districts and two charter schools, as of April 20, represent 723,057 of the state’s 1.5 million public school students, or 47 percent. The number is expected to rise.
Last year, at least 42 districts closed, representing around 1,043,000 students, or 68 percent of the state’s public school students.
State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson has asked teachers to hold the protest on a non-school day, such as spring break or when the school year is over. He says students already have missed school because of Hurricane Florence and snow days.
Some districts have heeded Johnson’s call and are planning to stay open May 1, rejecting requests from some teachers to take the day off. They’re asking teachers to send small groups from individual schools while keeping the district open May 1.
Iredell-Statesville had announced Wednesday it would remain open on May 1. But the school board voted at an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon to make May 1 an optional teacher workday for staff and a virtual day for students.
Here are the districts and charter schools that have announced that May 1 will be a teacher work day. Click on the names and links to learn more about how each district and charter school is handling AP exams, makeup days and other questions related to the closing.
This list will be updated.
▪ Bertie County: 2,104 students
▪ Brunswick County: 12,471 students
▪ Cabarrus County: 33,008 students
▪ Central Park School For Children (charter school): 629 students
▪ Chapel Hill-Carrboro: 12,307 students
▪ Charlotte-Mecklenburg: 147,406 students
▪ Cumberland County: 50,073 students
▪ Durham County: 32,356 students
▪ Franklin County: 8,119 students
▪ Guilford County: 71,413 students
▪ Hickory City: 4,077 students
▪ Hoke County: 8,758 students
▪ Iredell-Statesville Schools: 20,236 students
▪ Johnston County: 36,360 students
▪ Kannapolis City Schools: 5,438 students
▪ Lexington City Schools: 2,983 students
▪ Mooresville Graded School District: 5,980 students
▪ Nash Rocky Mount Schools: 14,801 students
▪ Orange County Schools: 7,300 students
▪ Pitt County: 23,358 students
▪ Raleigh Charter High School: 563 students
▪ Wake County: 160,471 students
▪ Wilson County: 9,041 students
▪ Winston Salem/Forsyth: 53,805 students