Superintendent Mark Johnson is doling out iPads like Santa Claus

NC Superintendent Mark Johnson and his iPads are making news again.  

In the wake of Hurricane Dorian, Johnson sent 200 of the tablets to students and teachers of hurricane-ravaged Ocracoke School.  

Then on Monday, Johnson slid down the chimney for a surprise visit and photo opportunity at Junius H. Rose High School in non-hurricane ravaged Pitt County, dropping off 100 iPads for math teacher Tracy Moore, whom he said he “knew from a previous visit.”

At yesterday’s meeting of the State Board of Education, Johnson was asked some pointed questions by board chair Eric Davis, who wanted to better understand the selection process for iPad distribution:

“How do we respond when the question is, ‘Well, what criteria is used to make these awards and how does my school get into the queue to be considered for these awards?'” Davis asked.

“They can email me,” Johnson said.

“That’s the criteria?” Davis said.

Board members and the public are right to be concerned over the practice of one individual using taxpayer funds to arbitrarily hand out iPads as personal favors to teachers.  This approach does not allow for the equitable distribution of resources that our students deserve.  

Pitt County, for example, is certainly a high-need district, and 46.5% of students at Junius H Rose are classified as economically disadvantaged.  But Pitt is ranked as a Tier 2 county by the NC Department of Commerce in terms of level of economic distress–and it’s surrounded by six other counties that are in even worse shape economically.  I’m sure they’d also love some iPads in Wilson County. Or Edgecombe.

Unfortunately, time is running out for teachers in those Tier 1 districts to email Johnson and secure Apple’s latest technology for their students.  The Department of Public Instruction purchased 800 of the tablets over the summer, which means only 500 now remain.

The superintendent says the 800 iPads came from money he was able to save because he is so awesome at being fiscally conservative, and he claims he has the discretion to use that money as he sees fit: 

“We are doing such a better job with the operations of this department than was done in year’s past under previous leadership,” Johnson said. “Things are operating more efficiently and more effectively, and when you do that, you end up finding that there’s money leftover at the year, What I decided to do with that money at the end of the year, was to purchase iPads because they are something that’s in high demand, regardless of whether you’re a high school math teacher or if you’re a K-3 reading teacher.”

Johnson may need to answer some questions from the NC Office of State Budget and Management about transferring resources which the General Assembly has allocated for a specific purpose to separate government entities (LEAs) without authorization.  

Even Santa Claus should be subject to checks and balances.

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Legislators set to add four more NC schools to floundering Innovative School District

North Carolina state legislators are poised to add four more schools to the Innovative School District (ISD)–despite a complete lack of evidence that the approach has improved outcomes for students thus far.

Unless something changes, the four schools will join Robeson County’s Southside Ashpole Elementary, which just completed its first year as the only school currently being managed by the ISD.

Results so far are grim.  When the latest round of School Report Card grades were released this month, Southside Ashpole maintained its F rating.

While math scores increased slightly over the previous year, reading results at Southside Ashpole actually declined by 5% after the first year of ISD management.

Poor academic results are not the only warning sign coming out of the General Assembly’s Innovative School District.  The success of any endeavor in education depends in part on stable leadership. The past three months have seen the departure of three key leaders in the ISD effort.  LaTeesa Allen, who served as Superintendent of the Innovative School District, left the ISD at the end of June after only 9 months under circumstances which have never been explained by the Department of Public Instruction.  Bruce Major, principal of Southside Ashpole, quit unexpectedly in July after only one year on the job.  And the CEO of Achievement for All Children, which operates Southside Ashpole, abruptly resigned his position last month.  

The Innovative School District was originally created by the Republican supermajority in 2016 with votes in both chambers breaking down largely along party lines. Under existing legislation, the ISD Superintendent must inform districts next month which schools have been recommended for placement in the ISD.  The State Board of Education then has until mid-December to approve those schools for takeover by Innovative School Operators for the 2020-21 school year.  

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A bill currently in conference committee would relax the terms of the Innovative School District somewhat, requiring only one school to be added to the ISD each of the next three school years and giving schools more advance notice and time to improve before they are taken over.  

So far, votes on SB 522 appear to be following the same party lines, with Democrats indicating they’d prefer to let Republican lawmakers live with the results of legislation which probably never should have been passed to begin with rather than help make changes which leave the failed approach to school turnaround largely intact. 

The 12 schools currently under consideration for takeover by the Innovative School District are below, along with the criteria for their selection. 

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Mark Johnson’s open defiance of a government agency decision is a big deal

Image result for mark johnson nc angry

*this article was originally published by the Charlotte Observer

Superintendent Mark Johnson’s startling defiance of another state agency’s authority has thrown the process of assessing North Carolina’s K-3 students into uncertainty as the new school year gets underway.  

Last year a broad evaluation committee made up of Department of Public Instruction (DPI) employees, professional educators, and subject matter experts overwhelmingly recommended Amplify’s mClass for the assessment contract.  Johnson then cancelled the procurement process under dubious circumstances and assembled a new committee which would recommend Istation’s computer-based assessment instead. When details emerged that called the process’s adherence to procurement rules into question, Amplify appealed the decision to DPI.  After DPI rejected the appeal, Amplify filed a Request for Administrative Hearing with the Department of Information Technology (DIT).  That’s the state agency charged with making sure that other agencies follow North Carolina’s rules and procedures when procuring information technology.

DIT was concerned enough by Amplify’s allegations to grant its request for a temporary stay of the Istation contract’s implementation while the agency reviews the process the state superintendent followed in awarding it.  Upon completion of that review, DIT has the authority to issue a decision on whether or not the Istation contract is valid.

In his initial public statement about the development, Mark Johnson referred to the stay as “improper” and said, “DIT lawyers need to understand they are accountable to North Carolinians, not the CEO of Amplify.”  Just a few days later, Johnson announced that Istation would provide its services for free so that North Carolina schools could continue using the tool, saying, “Istation believes in supporting public education in North Carolina so much, they have agreed to continue training teachers at no additional cost during this ridiculous DIT review.”  Istation President Ossa Fisher said the company would “work with DPI, educators, parents, and students without pay until the issues surrounding the stay are resolved.”

Istation may be providing its product for free, but it’s free in the sense that a puppy is free.  Use of a brand new assessment tool requires a significant investment of time and energy by school personnel.  Those things aren’t free.

With the state superintendent indicating that schools should keep using an assessment which another agency has put on hold, the vitally important work of assessing our youngest readers has descended into confusion all over the state.  Some districts such as Wake and Cabarrus have contracted directly with Amplify to use the mClass tool on their own dime, and some are using other tools to track student reading progress. But a considerable number of districts are following Johnson’s lead and proceeding as if Istation’s contract will be upheld, training teachers on how to use Istation and assessing students on the tool.  The mClass application has been removed from the state’s electronic platform NCEdCloud and replaced with Istation. With Mark Johnson’s blessing, Istation assessments are now collecting data on North Carolina students, despite the fact that the company’s contract has been put on hold by DIT.  

While Superintendent Johnson can disagree with DIT’s decision, he should know better than to run roughshod over due process.  After all, as Johnson reminded everyone last month, he’s not just superintendent, he’s also a lawyer. Personally endorsing and advocating for a product that hasn’t gone through proper procurement to operate in North Carolina–as the free offering of Istation has not–appears to be a deliberate attempt to subvert the decision of a governing authority.  North Carolina’s public school families deserve better than this poor leadership and the chaos that surrounds the important work of evaluating our children’s reading abilities.

NC House Republicans resort to slimy tricks to prevent decent educator pay raises

As schools opened their doors to students across North Carolina this week, the budget stalemate dragged on with no end in sight.  Taxpayers have now spent more than a million dollars since Governor Cooper’s veto to support Republicans’ false hopes of an override.  The daily cost is roughly equivalent to the average salary of a public school counselor.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Here in Charlotte, educators who worked hard last year to help elect a more education-friendly Board of County Commissioners and saw a county budget passed which makes CMS teachers the highest paid in the state are not seeing a single cent of that raise while the impasse continues.

A new piecemeal strategy is emerging with state legislators introducing a series of “mini budget” bills which are essentially just individual pieces of the state budget Cooper vetoed two months ago.  On Friday the governor signed into law pay raises for state employees such as State Bureau of Investigations, Alcohol Law Enforcement and Highway Patrol.  The bill did not include pay raises for educators. Cooper said, “We appreciate our hardworking state employees across North Carolina. However, Republicans are insisting that teachers get a smaller pay raise than other state employees. This hurts our efforts to attract and keep highly qualified teachers in every classroom. I urge Republican legislators to pass a pay raise that doesn’t shortchange teachers.”

Pay raises for some educators were actually proposed in a separate bill this week.  Under the House proposal, non-certified staff including custodians, bus drivers and teaching assistants would have received an insulting 1% annual increase.

When House Republicans got wind that their Democratic counterparts planned to offer amendments to increase the pay raises, they resorted to a little-known legislative trick to prevent those amendments from being heard. 

Here’s how CMS Government Relations Coordinator Charles Jeter explained the shenanigans in his weekly newsletter:

A little known rule in the NCGA is the amendment process to bills on the floor. See, most people assume that any relevant matter to a bill can be put forward as an amendment. And in most cases that’s true. So if we’re debating a bill about the speed limit and the bill says NC is going to lower the speed limit to 65mph statewide, I could make an amendment on floor to change it to 100mph statewide instead. But, I cannot run that amendment if it changes the title of the bill. So my amendment to change the statewide speed limit to 100mph is perfectly fine if the bill title is An Act to Set the Maximum Speed Limit in North Carolina. But that exact same amendment is out of order and cannot be considered if the title of the bill is An Act to Set the Maximum Speed Limit in North Carolina to 65mph. See, if the title of the bill includes a specific speed limit, then by NCGA rules, I cannot make an amendment to change the proposed speed limit of 65mph since it would change the title of the bill. Got it? Well welcome to HB 426. See HB 426 was dealing with pay raises for non-certified school district employees, state retirees, and community college employees among others. But while the Republicans in the House assumed that this bill would pass just as quickly and unanimously as the other four similar bills did, they were surprised to learn that the Democrats decided to file about ten amendments to adjust the percentage of pay increases listed in the bill. Since the House Republicans were primarily focused on passing pay raises that matched the exact same numbers that were in the budget passed by the NCGA back in June, Democrats decided this was the perfect opportunity to start stalled budget negotiations again. And now, because these amendments would change the title of the bill, they could no longer be offered. In response to this bill title change, the Democrats pledged to vote against the bill, and with that, the bill was removed from consideration with no indication whether or not it will ever be considered again.

In case you’re curious, the title Republicans gave the bill is as follows:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED AN ACT CONSISTENT WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE AND COMMITTEE REPORT FOR HOUSE BILL 966 OF THE 2019 REGULAR SESSION (1) APPROPRIATING FUNDS TO AWARD LEGISLATIVELY MANDATED SALARY INCREASES IN EACH YEAR OF THE 2019-2021 FISCAL BIENNIUM TO EMPLOYEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT A FUNDING LEVEL SUPPORTING A ONE-HALF OF ONE PERCENT INCREASE AND TO EMPLOYEES OF THE COMMUNITY COLLEGE SYSTEM AT A FUNDING LEVEL SUPPORTING A ONE PERCENT INCREASE PURSUANT TO POLICIES ADOPTED BY THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AND THE STATE BOARD OF COMMUNITY COLLEGES, RESPECTIVELY, AND ALSO APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR FACULTY RETENTION AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA IN THE AMOUNT OF SIX MILLION DOLLARS FOR THE 2019-2020 FISCAL YEAR AND ELEVEN MILLION FOUR HUNDRED THIRTY-THREE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED THIRTEEN DOLLARS FOR THE 2020-2021 FISCAL YEAR, (2) APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR THE 2019-2020 FISCAL YEAR TO PROVIDE A ONE PERCENT SALARY INCREASE FOR NONCERTIFIED PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OR A PRORATED AMOUNT AS APPROPRIATE AND EXPRESSING THE INTENTION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO APPROPRIATE FUNDS FOR THE 2020-2021 FISCAL YEAR TO PROVIDE A ONE PERCENT SALARY INCREASE FOR NONCERTIFIED PUBLIC SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OR A PRORATED AMOUNT AS APPROPRIATE, (3) REQUIRING THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION TO STUDY AND REPORT TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST AND SCHOOL COUNSELOR POSITIONS, (4) SETTING THE EMPLOYER CONTRIBUTION RATES FOR RETIREMENT AND RELATED BENEFITS, (5) PROVIDING TWO ONE-TIME COST-OF-LIVING SUPPLEMENTS THAT ARE BOTH IN THE AMOUNT OF ONE-HALF OF ONE PERCENT OF A BENEFICIARY’S ANNUAL RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE, (6) APPROPRIATING FUNDS TO IMPLEMENT CONNER’S LAW, AND (7) AMENDING SPECIAL INSURANCE BENEFITS OFFERINGS. 

Republican legislators seem to be operating as if they still hold a veto-proof majority.  They don’t. It’s time for lawmakers to come to the table and engage in good faith negotiations, including allowing for the debate which is so essential to a healthy democracy.  

School with sordid segregationist history reopens as a charter. NC Director of Charter Schools praises its commitment to diversity.

A Halifax County private school which was founded as a reaction against racial integration efforts in the 1960s has re-opened as a taxpayer-funded public charter.

North Carolina Director of Charter Schools Dave Machado attended Wednesday’s opening ceremony and praised the school’s transformation, saying “They kept coming back with stronger applications and I just think it’s exciting to see this large population of very diverse students.  It’s exactly what a charter school should look like.”

Hobgood’s charter application was laser focused on giving children a way out of poverty through education.  It noted that “the potential exists to turn the tide of poverty in this community through excellence in education” and referred to Hobgood as “the perfect place to impact the most vulnerable of our children.”  Hobgood’s professional development plan for teachers also includes diversity training using Ruby Payne’s A Framework for Understanding Poverty–materials which have been criticized by some for reinforcing biases and ignoring the systems that actually perpetuate poverty.

While goals of helping children of poverty and working toward more integrated schools are laudable, they’re also effective marketing points for a private school whose only hope in staying open may be to turn charter.   

During Hobgood’s campaign to convert to a public charter school, a Google Site called “Let’s Charter Hobgood” was set up to organize and inform the school’s parents.  After Rodney Pierce and I published a piece about Hobgood in the Washington Post, access to that site was restricted.  (I copied its contents beforehand and you can still view it here.)  

The Hobgood parent site confirms that the primary reason behind the school’s desire to become a public charter was not to increase diversity and expand opportunity for children of poverty at all.  Rather, it was to allow children who already went to the 87% White school to continue to attend it, instead of going to Halifax County Schools, where only 4% of students are White.  According to 2010 census data, Halifax County’s residents are 40% White and 53% Black.

The site referred to the steady increase in tuition and corresponding decline in enrollment as “deadly thin ice,” holding up other area private schools that had previous closed as ominous examples of what could happen if something didn’t change.  Hobgood’s charter application to the state also mentions “significant decline in enrollment” and acknowledges that the school’s $5,000 a year tuition may be a barrier to some families.

Hobgood parents who had concerns about converting from a private school to a public charter had raised questions to those leading the charge, and a handful of answers to those questions were posted to “Let’s Charter Hobgood.”  One of the answers reads “No current law forces any diversity whether it be by age, sex, race, creed.”  The question is missing, but it’s not hard to figure out what those parents were worried about.

It’s no coincidence that the history of Hobgood Academy is also rooted in desire by Halifax County’s White community to resist efforts at racial integration, as 2019 North Carolina Council for Social Studies Teacher of the Year and Halifax County native Rodney Pierce chronicled in a Twitter history lesson earlier this year:

Hobgood Academy was founded in 1969 and opened in September 1970. IMO, this was a direct response to the U.S. Justice Department’s rejection of the Halifax County Schools District’s plan of desegregation in March 1969 that did not comply with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The county’s White residents resisted integration in public education so much so that the late Rep. Thorne Gregory, who was from Scotland Neck, actually filed a bill in January of 1969 to establish a separate school district for his hometown. 

Blacks made up only 18 percent of the town’s population at the time and the bill would allow the town’s mayor and commissioners to set up a five member school board and establish a supplemental school tax of 50 cents for each $100 property valuation.  Additionally, there were 8,000 Black students and 2,300 White pupils in HCS, a ratio of nearly 4:1. 

Thorne’s bill passed the House in February 1969 and the Senate in March, with some impassioned pleas from late Senator Julian Allsbrook of Roanoke Rapids.  The Justice Department filed suit against the district in June 1969 and the case was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor of the plaintiffs in June 1972 (U.S. v. Scotland Neck City Board of Education).  

Given the proximity of the town of Hobgood to the city of Scotland Neck, and the history of White residents of Scotland Neck attempting to establish their own separate public school district, I don’t think it’s a reach to think that some of those families who resisted integration banded together to start a private academy for their children. 

Demographic data for the newly christened Hobgood Charter Academy is not yet available on the North Carolina Department of Instruction’s statistical profile, so it remains to be seen whether its racial composition has significantly changed to resemble anything close to that of the county around it.  

What is clear is that North Carolina’s newest charter school will now receive more than $2 million in state funds.  The majority of that tab will be paid by Halifax County Schools via charter pass-through transfer funding, taking resources away from students in one of North Carolina’s poorest counties.

NC Superintendent offers iPads to charter schools–but there’s a catch

North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson has offered to provide the state’s charter schools with iPads.  The catch? They only get the tablets if they agree to use the controversial new K-3 reading assessment Istation.

Last week news broke that 3,269 iPads Johnson had purchased were sitting in a DPI warehouse in Raleigh.  A day later, Johnson and DPI Communications Director Graham Wilson explained that ‘extensive, strategic work’ had occurred throughout the summer to develop a plan to provide schools with resources including iPads.

But an email sent by NC Director of Charter Schools Dave Machado to charter school directors just yesterday paints a picture of a department that appears to be scrambling to figure out what to do with those iPads.  In the message, Machado explained that DPI is providing tablets “for teachers at charter schools that have signed up to use the new Read to Achieve diagnostic tool.” 

Charter schools have the flexibility to decide what tool to use to assess K-3 reading.  Increasing the number of charter schools that are using Istation would be a PR victory for a superintendent who has endured intense criticism since announcing his decision to select the assessment tool against the recommendation of a committee of evaluators.

The practice of providing iPads only to charter schools which agree to use Istation also conflicts sharply with a communication Superintendent Johnson sent to all North Carolina teachers earlier this week, in which he urged teachers to use tablets provided by DPI “for any literacy activities in your classroom you want.”

On the same day Machado emailed charter school directors this hilariously simple survey to answer in order to claim their iPads, the North Carolina Department of Information Technology issued a stay blocking the use of Istation while it reviews the process the Department of Public Instruction followed to award the contract. 

There is no word yet from DPI on whether charter schools will be issued iPads while the contract fiasco is being sorted out.

NC Department of Information Technology pauses Istation implementation in order to review contract award

The North Carolina Department of Information Technology (DIT) has granted Amplify’s Motion to Stay the Istation contract pending administrative review of the process the Department of Public Instruction followed in awarding it.

After Superintendent Mark Johnson denied Amplify’s official protest of his decision to award the K-3 reading assessment contract to computer-based Istation, Amplify appealed the denial to DIT. With the school year set to begin, Amplify also requested the contract itself be paused while the matter is considered. DIT has granted that motion and Istation implementation now appears to be on hold.

In a statement, Amplify CEO Larry Berger said, “We learned today our motion to stay the K-3 reading assessment contract award to Istation has been granted by the NC Department of Information Technology (DIT). This decision means that Istation must halt its implementation while the proceeding is pending with DIT. We look forward to working with NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) and DIT to ensure that all educators in the state have the critical opportunity to understand their students’ reading development at the beginning of the school year, just as they have in the past.”

Amplify now has 30 days to prepare Prehearing Statements, and a Prehearing Scheduling Conference is set to take place at DIT on October 8.

You can read DIT’s motion below:



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NC Superintendent addresses iPad discrepancy, promises distribution

A day after news broke that 3,269 iPads were sitting in DPI storage rather than being used in North Carolina schools, Superintendent Mark Johnson went on the defensive.  

Johnson had informed the State Board of Education last March that there were “just over 2,000” iPads at the textbook warehouse and that they would be distributed in spring or summer to be ready for use in the 2019-2020 school year.  But an August warehouse inventory showed the tablets were still sitting in storage–and the actual number was significantly higher.  

On Wednesday, DPI Communications Director Graham Wilson told the media there was an “extensive, strategic” plan to distribute the tablets to North Carolina schools, and that 800 additional iPads were purchased last month as a part of that plan.  He said details about the plan would be announced next week.

In comments to WRAL, Superintendent Johnson blamed September 2018’s Hurricane Florence for the long delay.  He also attempted to deflect attention by taking a shot at former Superintendent June Atkinson:

“It’s so exciting that the money that I saved in my superintendent’s budget – because I just spend less than my predecessor – I actually bought books for children, and we bought 800 extra iPads to put on top of that.”

Johnson didn’t explain which budget line item was used to purchase the latest iPads.  There is no “superintendent’s budget.”  

3,269 iPads are collecting dust in the NC Department of Public Instruction textbook warehouse

Almost exactly one year ago, North Carolina Superintendent Mark Johnson announced a major technology purchase for K-3 teachers:  everyone would be getting an iPad.  

Eyebrows shot up all over the state, especially the eyebrows of anyone who had recently seen the price tags at an Apple store. 

NC Department of Public Instruction (DPI) spokesman Drew Elliot said literacy consultants had recommended iPads as the overwhelming choice for early elementary children, and that purchasing a large number of devices meant a bulk discount and no sales tax.  The department put the overall cost of the iPads at around $6 million for 24,000 tablets.

Just when taxpayers’ eyebrows had settled down to their standard position, a story by NC Policy Watch’s Billy Ball shot them right back up again.  It turned out the iPad purchase had come mere months after Mark Johnson and a handful of influential state legislators were wined and dined at Apple’s headquarters in Silicon Valley. 

At its September 2018 meeting, the State Board of Education had some pointed questions for Superintendent Johnson, as board members objected to not being notified prior to this large expenditure.  According to meeting minutes and social media accounts by those in attendance, Johnson bristled and asked that such questions occur by telephone or email rather than at a public meeting.

Apart from the ethical questions raised by the interaction with Apple, the fact that this purchase was made by the superintendent at all was problematic.  State law holds that individual school districts should be provided with funds for electronic devices and allowed to make decisions about purchases on their own.  After all, each district’s needs and capabilities are different.  

At the February meeting of the State Board of Education, Mark Johnson acknowledged as much, admitting that some districts preferred to use Google Chromebooks and noting there were unused iPads remaining in the warehouse (apparently they were sent out to school districts that didn’t want them and then returned).  

Johnson said the plan was to distribute those iPads in the spring.  When pressed by board member Wayne McDevitt on the exact number of iPads in the warehouse, the superintendent said he didn’t have the exact number but it was in the “low thousands.”

When the State Board met in March, Superintendent Johnson was again asked how many iPads remained in the warehouse, this time by Chairman Eric Davis.  Johnson put the number at “just over 2,000” and said they would be distributed in spring and summer so they could be used for the 2019-2020 school year.

It turns out that number was off–by quite a lot.

According to a source within DPI, as of August 2019, the number of iPads currently in the warehouse is 3,269.  That’s right, nearly 15% of the iPads Mark Johnson bought without consulting districts are collecting dust at the North Carolina Textbook Warehouse in Raleigh.  

Let’s leave aside for a moment the argument that these tablets should probably never have been purchased to begin with, due to ethical and procedural considerations.  The fact is they belong to North Carolina taxpayers now. And they need to be in classrooms in front of our students.

**update: A day after this piece was published, Superintendent Mark Johnson offered an explanation for the discrepancy in numbers between how many warehoused iPads were reported to the State Board of Education in March and how many are currently in inventory. Johnson said he purchased an additional 800 iPads last month.

Help is on the way for North Carolina Virtual Public School teachers


This week more than 200 teachers with North Carolina Virtual Public Schools (NCVPS) were notified of an impending mandatory 31-day break in their service due to a state law governing temporary employees.  While NCVPS employment had been permitted under the statute for years, the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR) recently determined that the arrangement was out of compliance.

The furloughs would impact fall semester course offerings for thousands of students statewide who rely on the platform. 

In a Friday letter to NCVPS educators, State Board of Education chairman Eric Davis noted the “significant, practical” impacts the furloughs would have on teachers, students, and school districts.  With the beginning of the traditional school year right around the corner, the State Board and the Department of Public Instruction are working with members of the General Assembly and the Governor’s office to address the problem. 

Late Friday, the State Board’s Director of Government Relations Cecilia Holden said the board had requested a temporary waiver from OSHR and was working with the General Assembly to find a solution.  Among others, one option being reviewed is the possibility of identifying and enacting a limited legislative exemption from this requirement for NCVPS temporary employees.

Holden noted that House K-12 Education Committee Chair Craig Horn shared that the Staff and Education Chairs are working on a solution to this issue and feel that they have the situation well in hand.  They expect to have the problem solved before any such furloughs are implemented. She added, “In this time of need, we are thankful to our legislators who are working diligently to partner with K-12 education for the benefit of our students.”

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