WJTV News Channel 12 - Wake Co.judge calls teacher tenure law 'not reasonable'

Wake Co.judge calls teacher tenure law 'not reasonable'

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RALEIGH, N.C. - A Wake County judge issued a written decision on Friday that a new North Carolina law cutting job protections for veteran teachers who now enjoy them is unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood had made that ruling from the bench May 16 but produced a written order Friday.

“All teachers who earned career status before the July 26, 2013 enactment of the Career Status Repeal have contractual rights in that status and to the protections established by the Career Status Law,” Hobgood wrote.

Hobgood wrote that the new law “substantially impairs the contractual rights of career status teachers.”


He said the repeal of career status “was not reasonable and necessary to serve an important public purpose.”

“Therefore, the Career Status Repeal clearly violates the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution by substantially impairing the contractual rights of career status teachers.”

He ruled the state of North Carolina is “permanently enjoined” from enforcing parts of the law.

The order was signed June 5 and released June 6.

His ruling also said the law passed by Republican lawmakers last year violates constitutional rights that protect contracts and prevent governments from taking a person's property.

For more than 40 years, North Carolina law has said veteran teachers cannot be fired or demoted except for reasons that include poor performance, immorality and insubordination. Teachers earning career status after at least four years in a school district also have the right to a hearing where they can challenge their firing or demotion.

Last summer, Republican lawmakers voted to phase out those protections, arguing it will promote sharper classroom performance. Teachers who haven't worked the four years needed to qualify for career status are being offered one-year contracts. Veteran teachers were due to lose their tenure protections in 2018.

State Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, has promised that the ruling will be appealed.

“This is an important victory, not only for teachers, but for public education,” said Rodney Ellis, president of NCAE. “Local boards and superintendents have been standing right along with us in saying that protecting due process rights for teachers is a good thing – that we want our teachers to be strong advocates for students and to not have to fear politics will rob them of their job.”

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