- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - A Guilford County judge is backing two school districts fighting a North Carolina law that phases out job protections for public school teachers in favor of employment contracts.

Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton said in court on Wednesday he would issue an order blocking the teacher tenure law.

Greensboro attorney Jill Wilson represents Guilford County Schools in the lawsuit that also includes Durham schools. Wilson says it won’t be known until Doughton issues a written order in several days whether it will apply statewide.

Lawmakers last year directed all school districts to pick the best 25 percent of classroom teachers this spring and offer them tenure-ending, four-year contracts with pay raises totaling $5,000.

Supporters say ending job protections will promote sharper classroom performance.

The Durham and Guilford school boards sought a court order freeing them from the requirement to select a quarter of their teachers for contract offers. They argued the new law is too vague and leaves them vulnerable to lawsuits. School districts have until June 30 to offer the contracts.

Attorneys representing the state argued school districts could not sue.

North Carolina law for more than 40 years has said veteran teachers can’t be fired or demoted except for a series of listed reasons that include poor performance, immorality and insubordination. Career teachers also have the right to a hearing where they can challenge the reasons offered for their firing or demotion.

Gov. Pat McCrory and other state leaders want to eliminate tenure for all teachers by 2018. McCrory’s teacher advisory committee recommended in January that he work to modify the tenure law with “concrete standards” for selecting teachers who receive contracts and bonuses.

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