Injunction halts teacher tenure law in Guilford, Durham

Apr. 24, 2014 @ 05:13 PM

Guilford and Durham County Schools have a temporary reprieve from the new law where the top 25 percent of teachers can receive a bonus but lose their career status, more commonly called tenure. 

Guilford County initially filed a lawsuit opposing the legislation and Durham joined later. Numerous school boards, including the Union County Board of Education, have passed resolutions opposing the legislation. 

The legislation gives teachers a bonus over years if they accept a four-year contract and lose their tenure. If a teacher refuses the bonus, they can be given one-to-four year contracts. All teachers will lose career status in the future under the legislation. 

Special Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton said the law required school systems to act unconstitutionally and rejected the argument that local boards could not sue to stop laws. 

Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger’s office told WRAL Wednesday that they plan to file an appeal. 

Locally, the Union County Association of Educators has been working on a “Decline to Sign” campaign, urging teachers not to take the contract if they are offered one. 

Secretary Dawn Moretz, a teacher at Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, said they feel the judge is wise and are glad he recognized that the law was written poorly. 

She said that beyond the way the law was constructed, the concept behind it is not a good one. Career status, or tenure, gives teachers an extra level of due process if they lose their positions. 

“We are very pleased that Guilford and Durham County Schools were courageous enough to step out on behalf of their teachers to place the lawsuit,” Moretz said. 

Moretz said it was at-best a temporary bonus and it was unclear if it was fully funded over the full four years. She said the 25 percent contracts were basically a way of masking doing away with tenure. 

She said they are in favor of anything that can help raise teacher’s salaries permanently and allow them the opportunity of due process. 

“I’m glad that at least Union County (Board of Education) put forth a resolution before this came to court so that they can be joining arm-in-arm with other counties...showing their displeasure,” Moretz said. “This is not just an NCAE issue, this is a stakeholder issue for what’s best for public schools in NC.”

The North Carolina Association of Educators also filed a lawsuit opposing the legislation.

“The courts have heard what we have been saying all along, that this law is unconstitutional. The voices of teachers and school administrators have been heard. It appears that our system of checks and balances is working, and we are hopeful that the final order will show that no local school board will have to implement an unconstitutional law,” NCAE President Rodney Ellis said in a statement.