North Carolina Court affirms due process rights cannot be taken
No school boards can issue 25% contracts
Raleigh, NC - June 06, 2014 -
Judge Robert H. Hobgood issued a written order in Wake Superior Court today declaring the 2013 General Assembly’s actions unconstitutional in eliminating due process rights, or career status, for teachers who already had achieved it. The trial court also permanently enjoined implementation of the 25 percent contract provision as it was “inextricably tied” to the revocation of due process rights. The trial court dismissed claims of a right to due process from teachers who had not yet achieved it.
The written order makes clear what Judge Hobgood ruled from the bench three weeks ago. The permanent injunction of the 25 percent contract applies statewide and means that no school district in the state will be offering these contracts. The contracts required teachers to voluntarily give up their due process rights four years early in exchange for bonus pay. Over 51 school districts had passed resolutions in opposition to these contracts.
“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.” The NCAE lawsuit included affidavits from superintendents and Durham County Board member Heidi Carter.
Since the initial ruling three weeks ago, the Senate has passed its version of the budget. In order to get a salary raise, the Senate budget provision requires teachers to irrevocably give up due process rights and to agree to enter into a contract that can be changed at any time by the General Assembly. It also specifies that there are no enforceable private rights and that if there is litigation that finds these provisions unconstitutional, that all teachers subject to the court order will be placed on the lower, frozen salary schedule.
“The Senate budget provision was clearly in response to our lawsuit and is plainly wrong. Our victory reaffirms the important role of the judiciary in interpreting the constitution and determining when the General Assembly has overstepped its bounds by passing laws that are unconstitutional. Every citizen should care about this process. We all need to pay attention to the importance of maintaining three branches of government and doing our part by exercising our right to vote,” Ellis said.
“Misguided initiatives, like the one thrown out today by the court in North Carolina, hurt students by forcing teachers to give up basic protections and serve only to undermine the ability of school districts to recruit and retain high quality teachers," said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. "The National Education Association stands with the North Carolina Association of Educators in fighting for what students need to succeed.”
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators, and students preparing to become teachers.
Ann McColl, NCAE General Counsel, Office: (919) 919-755-5553, Mobile: (919) 610-5910
Staci Maiers, (202) 270-5333, firstname.lastname@example.org