RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s Supreme Court says state lawmakers violated the constitutional rights of veteran teachers by taking away job protections they’d already earned.
The state’s high court ruled unanimously Friday that the General Assembly can’t retroactively repeal the job protections veteran teachers were promised. The judges said lawmakers could stop new teachers from earning the same type of protections since the law passed in mid-2013.
North Carolina protects teachers earning career status after at least four years in a school district. They can’t be fired or demoted except for outlined reasons that include poor performance, immorality and insubordination. They also have the right to a hearing to challenge their firing or demotion.
Republican lawmakers argued ending those protections would make it easier to get rid of bad teachers, improving classroom performance.
“Today is a win for educators, public schools, and most importantly students. The court has heard the voices of teachers that North Carolina should honor its commitment of basic employment rights,” NCAE President Rodney Ellis said. “We are glad the Court recognized the General Assembly’s attempt to strip away rights from teachers as unconstitutional.”
House Speaker Tim Moore, in a statement, said he would respect the ruling.
“I believe that we need to focus on recruiting and retaining the best teachers,” Moore said. “We need to continue to push for policies that allow local school administrators to remove teachers that consistently underperform.”