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@NCCapitol

Court says lawmakers made illegal grab at teacher tenure

Posted June 2, 2015

Classroom generic

— A three-judge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals has upheld a lower-court ruling that lawmakers unconstitutionally tried to force K-12 public school teachers to give up career status rights, or what some people call tenure.

The ruling stems from a Superior Court ruling issued a year ago in a lawsuit brought by the North Carolina Association of Educators, the state's largest teacher group.

In the opinion issued Tuesday morning, Judge Linda Stephens found that teachers who already had achieved career status had a vested right in those protections.

"The State’s argument that Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights have not been violated because they retain the same due process protections under the Career Status Repeal fails because it is patently false," Stephens wrote.

However, the court also found that a teacher who had not achieved tenure at the time of the suit did not have standing to bring her complaint to the court.

The General Assembly has since backed away from the tenure-for-pay swap, but lawmakers may still be interested in the outcome of the suit for future legislation. The court's split decision could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Rodney Ellis, president of NCAE, said his organization was pleased with the decision to uphold the tenure rights of veteran teachers but said NCAE could appeal the loss of younger teachers' ability to earn those rights.

"Career status is a critical tool to recruit and retain quality educators, just like fair compensation and working and learning conditions,” Ellis said in a statement. “We need to ensure all teachers can focus on educating our kids and helping them be successful and not worried about arbitrary disciplinary actions by administrators outside of the classroom."

9 Comments

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  • Chris Holder Jun 2, 2015
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    And what does that have to do with this case? Sounds like you're in favor of ignoring contractual agreements if you disagree with them.

  • Clif Bardwell Jun 2, 2015
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    I'm saying a contract that allows tenure may be great for teachers, but is a bad contract for the people. This is a "right to work" state. Teachers should be held just as accountable as any other profession in this state. If they cannot do their job, it should be just as easy to be fired as any other employee who is bad at their job.

  • Dan May Jun 2, 2015
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    I think protection from arbitrary and politically motivated termination is fine and needed in education. As long as there is a workable process that allows bus-standard and under performing teachers to be held responsible and replaced when needed. Teaching should not become a protected warehouse for those unemployable elsewhere. (The vast majority are competent, so please do not misconstrue what I am saying).

  • Jay Tanenbaum Jun 2, 2015
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    Clif to make sure I'm understanding you, just because the contract was signed by a government made up mostly of "liberals" that makes it no good?

  • Anthony Snark Jun 2, 2015
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    Another in a long line of unconstitutional legislation, with more to come I'm sure.

  • Andrew House Jun 2, 2015
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    A victory for Teachers today in the court. I am very proud of the decision as a teacher to see someone is standing up for my rights. I know there are those of you that disagree with this but Tenure does not protect bad teachers it does not keep us from getting fired. There are still policies in place that can remove a teacher who has tenure. All tenure guarantees is due process for a teacher. I did not like the state telling I had to give up my tenure for a raise that was like black mail almost.

  • Clif Bardwell Jun 2, 2015
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    No job is like any other job. But there is no valid reason teachers should have tenure. The fact that they got their union (excuse me, the NCEA; a union that doesn't like to be referred to as a union) to create a contract that includes it doesn't make it right, nor does the fact that it was accepted by liberal politicians.

  • Larry Jackson Jun 2, 2015
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    Because it was in the contract teachers signed and the state came up with it to protect teachers from wrongful termination. Teaching is not like any other job. Plus the fact that your job doesn't guarantee a hearing before you are disciplined or fired is your fault. Just like people tell teachers don't whine and moan about pay you chose that profession, you don't have the right to whine and moan about not having tenure, you chose your profession!

  • Rick Price Jun 2, 2015
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    Teaching is a job , like any other job. Why should they have tenure ?