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UPDATED: Guilford County School Board rejects law abolishing teacher tenure, will sue the state

*See below for additional documents related to this story.

Greensboro’s News & Record reports [1] that members of the Guilford County School Board voted unanimously last night to reject the state’s new law that would abolish teacher tenure and require school districts to offer teachers temporary contracts, calling into question its constitutionality and asking for relief from the law.

Guilford County also plans to file a complaint challenging the law in Guilford County Superior Court, according to Nora Carr, the district’s chief of staff.

Teachers packed the board room last night, wearing “red for ed” and holding signs to protest the law.

Last summer, lawmakers did away with teacher tenure, formally known as “career status,” which is essentially due process rights for teachers who are dismissed or demoted. North Carolina has awarded teachers tenure for roughly 50 years.

In its place, the state asks local school districts to award the top 25% of its teachers 4-year temporary contracts that are worth $500 pay bumps each year of the contract — as long as those teachers relinquish their tenure. By 2018, tenure will be abolished for all.

Teachers across the state have expressed unhappiness with the new law. The North Carolina Association of Educators is coordinating a campaign called “Decline to Sign,” encouraging teachers who have tenure to reject the temporary contracts and hold on to their tenure through 2018.

In a letter sent to GCS Superintendent Maurice Green, Senate leader Phil Berger said he was “deeply troubled” by Guilford’s move to defy the new law that he pushed toward passage last summer.

Berger also said that board members are “grasping at straws for a legal argument to support their preference for the status quo on teacher pay.”

“Attempts to manufacture legal arguments to derail policy directives may be even more underhanded than openly refusing to follow the law,” said Berger, according to the News & Record.

*UPDATE: Click here [2] to read Guilford County School Board’s resolution to reject the new teacher contract law. And click here [3] to read Senator Phil Berger’s letter to GCS Superintendent Maurice Green.

Gerry Cohen, Special Counsel to the NC General Assembly, explains in this letter [4]to Senator Berger the ramifications of a school board’s decision to reject the teacher contract system. Essentially, members of that school board can be removed from office as punishment for failing to comply with the law.

Check out this video of teachers protesting the law at the Guilford County school board meeting.