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NC senators take issue on 'walk-in' school action

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Educators and administrators attend a Moral Monday demonstration at the General Assembly. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN) Educators and administrators attend a Moral Monday demonstration at the General Assembly. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Some Republican state senators are criticizing activity at a Wake County school next week for a day of action promoted by the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Association members and other educators are promoting a teacher "walk-in" Monday at public schools statewide as a response to their unhappiness with education policy and funding promoted by Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-led legislature.

The 70,000-member group wants teachers to walk in together to work and parents and elected officials to visit schools. Promoters also want to meet after school to talk about goals to improve schools.

Senate leader Phil Berger's office on Wednesday cited a request for volunteers at one Raleigh elementary school to substitute for teachers briefly while they meet Monday morning as proof of a "politically-motivated one-hour strike."

"Schools have a duty to educate and protect our children, not serve as marching grounds for political protests orchestrated by unions," Berger and Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake, said in a prepared statement. The NCAE is affiliated with the National Education Association but doesn't haven't collective bargaining powers for North Carolina teachers.

NCAE President Rodney Ellis said the substitution request at Lacy Elementary School may not be the best approach but defended the walk-in and says the group doesn't support a strike. A handful of teachers had promoted a walkout through social media, but the association didn't endorse a job action that could lead to disciplinary action against teachers or get them fired.

"Teachers are still going to be (at school)," Ellis said. "They're still going to supervise."

Berger and Hunt suggested that Attorney General Roy Cooper respond to the teachers' actions next week.

Wake County schools are treating the activity at Lacy Elementary like any other event in which teachers will be out of the classroom for a brief period of time, such as for a luncheon, district spokeswoman Renee McCoy said. Volunteers must go through background checks before serving in classrooms,

"We have advised our school leaders to neither obstruct nor orchestrate any activity related" to the walk-in, McCoy said.

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