19 NC school districts now plan to close for rally, crowd estimate rises to 15,000

Posted May 9, 2018 5:21 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 11:20 a.m. EDT

— Wayne County Public Schools has decided to cancel classes next Wednesday for the teachers rally at the state Capitol, bringing the number of districts planning to close to 19, and the North Carolina Association of Educators is now estimating that up to 15,000 teachers may join in.

Three additional districts -- Chatham, Craven and Granville counties -- are considering closing.

The NCAE, which is organizing the rally, had been predicting that up to 10,000 teachers would join the rally, based in part on RSVPs it has received.

Johnston County, New Hanover County and Kannapolis City public schools announced Wednesday that the districts will not hold classes next Wednesday to allow teachers to participate in a rally in Raleigh.

That brings to 17 the number of public school districts that will shutter their campuses to allow educators to attend the May 16 event, expected to draw over 10,000 participants to downtown.

The list also includes public school districts in Wake, Durham, Orange and Mecklenburg counties.

Johnston County educators said in a written statement that the decision was made based on the growing number of teachers that opted to take personal leave that day.

“Without the presence of our teachers, normal operations will be disrupted and create possible issues regarding the order of our school day,” Superintendent Ross Renfrow said in the statement.

“The Johnston County Board of Education supports its teachers, knowing that the work they perform is lasting and cannot afford to be marginalized," Mike Wooten, chairman of the board, said.

The rally's organizers said teachers plan to meet with House and Senate members to push for better pay, school safety improvements and repairs to crumbling buildings.

North Carolina Association of Educators President Mark Jewell has said the rally will also benefit students.