Career status litigation
Abbreviated name: NCAE v. State of North Carolina
Court assigned case numbers: Wake County 13 CVS 16240; N.C. Court of Appeals 14-998;
All plaintiffs: North Carolina Association of Educators, Inc., Richard J. Nixon, Rhonda Holmes, Brian Link, Annette Beatty, Stephanie Wallace, John Deville
Defendant: State of North Carolina
The 2013 Appropriations Act of the North Carolina General Assembly included a repeal of laws providing for career status for teachers that would affect both those who already had achieved it as well as those in the pipeline for career status and new, incoming teachers. (Sections 9.6 and 9.7 of the Current Operations and Capital Improvement Appropriations Act, Session Law 2013-360) Career status – or tenure – is a system of employment that provides due process protections and standards for dismissal or demotion for teachers who have been determined by the local board to have earned career status after a probationary period. In its place, the General Assembly enacted a contract system of employment of 1-, 2-, or 4- year contracts. For teachers without career status, they would go on one-year contracts until 2018. For teachers with career status, they would keep this status until 2018 when they would shift to contracts. The Appropriations Act additionally provided that school boards must offer 4-year contracts in 2014 to 25% of eligible teachers who in exchange for voluntarily relinquishing career status four years prior to the repeal date, would receive a $500 compounded bonus in each year of the contract . The NCAE, along with four teachers with career status and one with probationary status, sought a summary judgment that these laws were unconstitutional under the North Carolina and United States Constitution.
Latest action/Next steps
Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood ruled on June 5, 2014 that the retroactive elimination of career status violated the North Carolina Law of the Land Clause, N.C. Const. Art. I, § 19 as well as the Contract Clause of the United States Constitution, U.S. Const., Art. I, § 10. The Court also held that the 25% provisions were unconstitutional as they were inextricably linked to the unconstitutional provisions as well as unconstitutionally vague. The court rejected plaintiff Brian Link’s claim, finding that probationary teachers do not have contractual rights protected by the state or federal constitution.
The State appealed the ruling on retroactive elimination of career status. The NCAE and Link appealed the rejection of the claims for probationary teachers. The case will be heard by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals on January 22. The judges assigned for the case are Judges Martha Geer, Linda Stephens, and Chris Dillon. It is the second case on the calendar that begins at 9:30.