News: Quick Takes

Agreement avoids layoffs of 220 N.C. Virtual Public School teachers

The Office of State Human Resources has announced a solution to prevent the layoffs of 220 teachers with the N.C Virtual Public School.

More than 200 teachers at NCVPS would have been left unemployed during the fall semester. The move would have complied with a state law requiring a mandatory 31-day break in service for temporary employees, and NCVPS would have had to cancel classes for more than 7,000 students.

Lawmakers introduced Monday an amendment to Senate Bill 295 that would exempt NCVPS from the rule. The bill was scheduled for a third reading vote Wednesday, Aug. 5, but before the House started session OSHR sent a news release stating an agreement was reached resolving the matter. 

“The Office of State Human Resources will continue to provide support and guidance during this transition,” Jill Warren Lucas, OSHR communications director, said in the news release. “No teacher will miss a paycheck and students should prepare for their classes to start as scheduled.” 

Instead of using Temporary Solutions — the OSHR division that processed the payrolls for NCVPS teachers classified as temporary employees — DPI will pay the teachers directly through BEACON, the state’s integrated HR-payroll system. The news release says the Office of the State Controller is prepared to accommodate the change. 

NCVPS teachers who worked the summer semester were told July 30 that, to comply with the state law on temporary employees, the teachers wouldn’t be allowed to work during the fall. The short notice created chaos as lawmakers, educational stakeholders, and state officials rushed to find a fix.

OSHR and DPI have disagreed about when DPI was notified about the need for a break in service for the 220 teachers. WRAL reported a spokeswoman for OSHR said NCVPS could have informed teachers about the potentially layoffs in May. But Graham Wilson, a spokesman for State Superintendent Mark Johnson, said they weren’t told about the potential layoffs until July. 

Lars Nance, general counsel for OSHR, sent a letter Monday to Philip Thomas, acting general counsel for DPI. It says the director of Temporary Solutions and staff from OSHR contacted DPI, its legal counsel, and NCVPS staff beginning in April about ways DPI could avoid laying off teachers. The letter says no changes were made and that NCVPS informed teachers of the break in service July 30.