WJTV News Channel 12 - DURHAM: Durham Public Schools join lawsuit to protect tenure

Durham Public Schools join lawsuit to protect tenure

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The Durham school board voted unanimously to join litigation Wednesday opposing a law eliminating tenure and establishing merit pay for teachers.

Durham school board Chair Heidi Carter said the board decided to fight the law because it is "destructive" and "disrespectful.

"It's demoralizing for teachers in that it divides teachers and creates conditions where they can't do their best collaborative work and it's destructive to public education in general because it's not giving teachers a pay and adequate pay scheme. That's what we really need," Carter said.

The Republican-led state legislature passed a budget last year eliminating teacher career status, commonly referred to as tenure. In exchange for giving up career status rights, school districts are offering the top 25 percent of teachers a four-year contract with pay raises totaling $5,000.

The Wake County School Board passed a resolution Tuesday to oppose the law but Durham is the only school system to join a lawsuit started by Guilford County Schools.

The lawsuit is asking a judge to put the law on hold and for the General Assembly to repeal it.

Senate President Pre Tempore Phil Berger said the law is meant to give administrators the ability to make sure under-performing teachers improve or find new professions. He said last school year, 17 of more than 95,000 instructors were dismissed for cause, implying it would have been more had others not had tenure.

"Schools across North Carolina rightfully take pride in naming teachers of the year, who are positive role models and leaders in their local communities," Berger said. "Likewise, we should embrace the opportunity to recognize and reward more of our top performing teachers."

The vote was unanimous but not everyone in the community agrees with this approach.

School board candidate Jimmy Doster said after the meeting a lawsuit is not proper way to use taxpayer money. Doster said the law should be opposed through the legislative process and not the courts. 

Justin Quesinberry

Justin is a reporter for WNCN and a North Carolina native. He has spent the better part of the last decade covering the news in central North Carolina.  More>>

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