Pender County Schools responds to teacher complaints; 60 Pender teachers say they cannot “fulfill their duties”

Pender County Schools responds to teacher complaints; 60 Pender teachers say they cannot “fulfill their duties”
Helping navigate 2020-2021 school year (Source: Pender County Schools)

PENDER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - On Friday, 60 Pender County teachers sent a letter to the Board of Education saying they cannot report to the classroom, with the start of the school year being only three days away, in order to protect themselves as well as their students.

After an emergency board meeting Friday night, Pender County Schools Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill proposed a delayed plan B reopening. Heide Trask would open under Plan C after the board said 24 teachers would be unable to report to the classroom, but did not specify reasons why.

Heide Trask will instead open under plan B on August 28.

In the Letter, the coalition of teachers said they made the decision after the August 11th board meeting.

The group cited the Code of Ethics for North Carolina Educators as well as a Pender County Board of Education Policy to why they do not feel a return is yet a viable option to start school.

The teachers cited Standard 1A of the Code of Ethics for North Carolina Educators states, “‘Commitment to the Student,’ asserts that a teacher ‘[p]rotects students from conditions within the educator’s control that circumvent learning or are detrimental to the health and safety of students.‘”

As for the Pender County Board of Education Policy they cited (1510-4200-7270), “It is the basic safety policy of Pender County Schools that no task is so important that an employee or student must violate a safety rule or risk injury or illness in order to get the job done.”

The coalition of teachers also asked the Board of Education for a meeting so they could come up with a solution together.

The teachers also listed a series of concerns and questions they believe were left unanswered in the district’s reopening plan.

Copies of the letter as well as the full list of concerns can be found below:

On Sunday evening, Pender County Schools responded with a statement addressing the concerns item by item, stating “in an effort to maintain transparency and provide additional clarity for staff and the public, Pender County Schools would like to address some questions about reopening schools.”

The response does not directly acknowledge the teachers’ letter.

The cohort of teachers expressed concerns including testing and quarantine protocols, sick leave, unequal in-person learning between student Cohorts A, B and C, sanitizing standards, and more.

You can view the district’s full response to each outlined concern here or view it below.

The district also states roughly 25% of enrolled students have chosen online-only learning, and the district says a staff survey found 87% of staff were willing to return to work under plan B with no extra accommodations.

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