Updated 12:01 a.m.

GREENSBORO — The Guilford County Board of Education plans to sue the state over a new law that would abolish teacher tenure.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to challenge the law and ask for relief from laws requiring it to offer contracts to certain teachers in exchange for their tenure. Board members said the law is unconstitutional, and its wording unclear. The board said the law “represents yet another thinly veiled attack on public education and educators.”

The board’s next step is to file a lawsuit in Guilford County Superior Court, said Nora Carr, Guilford County Schools’ chief of staff.

Teachers in the audience stood and clapped as the board’s vote appeared on a TV screen. Then board members and school system staff members stood and clapped for teachers.

Earlier in the day, the leader of the state Senate, Phil Berger, a Rockingham County Republican, sent a letter to Guilford County Schools leaders expressing concern over the board’s plan to disregard the law.

Berger said in the letter to Superintendent Maurice “Mo” Green that he is “deeply troubled by reports that the Guilford County School Board is considering ignoring a law enacted to recognize and reward excellent teachers.”

That action would be illegal and represents “a ‘picking and choosing’ of which laws the Board intends to follow and punishes top teachers for purely political reasons.”

Board members also seem to be “grasping at straws for a legal argument to support their preference for the status quo on teacher pay,” Berger said.

“Attempts to manufacture legal arguments to derail policy directives may be even more underhanded than openly refusing to follow the law,” he wrote.

“Like the rest of us, local officials cannot pick and choose which laws to follow,” Berger said. “Such action would give them an unconstitutional veto over the laws enacted by elected representatives in the General Assembly.”

School leaders across the state have until July 1 to select teachers to offer a new four-year contract, as well as a compounding $500 pay increase.

But Jill Wilson, the attorney for the Guilford County school board, challenged the law’s constitutionality.

With tenure, state law protects teachers from having their status changed or salary reduced without due process. The law also details the grounds under which they can be removed or demoted.

Wilson said the state has not appropriated enough money to cover the first year of pay increases that would be offered with the contracts. She also described other issues with how teachers would be selected and awarded contracts under the law.

Almost 200 teachers and community members, most wearing red for public education, packed the school system’s central office. About an hour before the meeting started, teachers — some from out of state — chanted while they held signs protesting recent legislation affecting education.

Several teachers spoke during the public comment period at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, thanking board members for their expected vote.

“Right now educators are facing a death of a thousand cuts,” said teacher Todd Warren, who has spoken out about raising pay for all teachers.

Amy Harrison, a special education teacher at Reedy Fork Elementary, thanked board members and told them every teacher at her school has signed a petition pledging to decline the new contracts.

Joe Stafford, a community member who usually attends the board meetings, said the board should not break the law.

“I’m shocked,” he said. “I thought lawyers were officers of the court and it’s illegal to propose for groups of people to violate the law.”

He said the board members who support breaking the law should resign.

But teachers thanked the board.

Christy Adams, who was recognized as the school system’s employee of the month, told the board, “You guys have come to our defense. We applaud you for that.”


Updated 10:15 p.m.

GREENSBORO — The Guilford County school board's next step is to file suit in Guilford County Superior Court in its challenge of the state's new tenure law, said Nora Carr, the district's chief of staff.


Updated 9:57 p.m.

GREENSBORO — The Guilford County School Board unanimously supported a resolution challenging the state's new tenure law and asking for relief from laws requiring them to offer contracts to certain teachers in exchange for their tenure.

Teachers in the audience stood and clapped as the board's vote appeared on a TV screen. Then board members and district staff stood and clapped for teachers.

Board members said the law is unconstitutional, its wording unclear. They also said the legislation "represents yet another thinly veiled attack on public education and educators.


Updated 7:11 p.m.

GREENSBORO — Senate leader Phil Berger said he is "deeply troubled" by reports that the Guilford County Board of Education will vote tonight not to follow provisions of the state teacher tenure law.

In a letter sent to Superintendent Maurice "Mo" Green, Berger said that by ignoring the law, board members are failing to "recognize and reward excellent teachers."

Board members are expected to vote to not choose certain teachers to award new contracts, as required by law.

About six of the 11 board members already have indicated they support that vote.

Tonight, teachers wearing red for public education, packed the board room and central office. About an hour before the meeting started, teachers — some from out of state — chanted and held signs protesting recent legislation affecting education.

Several teachers spoke during the public comment period of the meeting, thanking board members for their expected voted.

"Right now educators are facing a death of a thousand cuts," said teacher Todd Warren, who has spoken out about raising pay for all teachers.

Amy Harrison, a special education teacher at Reedy Fork Elementary, thanked the board and told them every teacher at her school has signed a petition pledging to decline the new contracts.


Posted 6:26 p.m.

GREENSBORO — Teachers gathered tonight at the Guilford County Board of Education meeting as the board is set to discuss ignoring provisions in a new state law that eliminates teacher tenure.

The board is likely to vote to ignore the provisions that would require them to pick certain teachers to offer new contracts and pay increases in exchange for tenure — essentially, their job protection.

Six of the 11 board members have already said they support not issuing the contracts.

Board members have questioned whether rescinding career status from vested teachers violates the state and federal constitutions.

They also questioned how the tenure changes would affect recruiting and retaining teachers.

Senate leader Phil Berger of Eden sent the district a letter today expressing concerns over the board's plan.

"Like the rest of us, local officials cannot pick and choose which laws to follow," he wrote to Superintendent Maurice "Mo" Green. "Such action would give them an unconstitutional veto over the laws enacted by elected representatives in the General Assembly."

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​Contact Marquita Brown at (336) 373-7002, and follow @mbrownk12 on Twitter.

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