UPDATE 3:20PM – Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow and School Board Chairman Mike Wooten released a joint statement in response to the GOP news article stating, “Safety remains our top priority which is the driving force behind our decision. Based on the high numbers of absences affecting all areas of school operations, our decision to close schools was in the interest of safety and security.”
SMITHFIELD – The Johnston County Republican Party had some strong words for the Johnston County School Board and Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow for their decision to close Johnston County Public Schools today (May 1st) to allow teachers to attend a rally at the General Assembly in Raleigh.
All county public schools were closed for 37,000 students with an optional teacher workday.
“Johnston County Republican Party supports teachers and their right to voice concerns about Education in our state. However, the May 1st Teacher Rally is not the proper day, nor the proper method, in which to accomplish positive change,” the Johnston County GOP said in a statement emailed to JoCoReport this morning.
“Leaving the classroom just a few days before End of Grade testing, and just a few weeks before the end of the school year, penalizes students and parents. This rally could be held when the school year ends and parents have child care, and the General Assembly would still be in session. Furthermore, teachers’ efforts would be far more productive if they set a time to meet with their state legislators to discuss their ideas and needs, rather than marching on the mall.”
“While teachers and school workers may be rallying for apolitical reasons, they are being used by the NCAE to accomplish partisan goals of electing Democrats and pushing the left’s agenda, as demonstrated by both the organization’s campaign donations and the words of their rally chants. Also, May 1st is recognized annually as International Workers Day, which also indicates this is not just about Education in NC.”
There are personnel guidelines which ban school employees from engaging in political activities on school time, and additional policies should be implemented to limit the number of employees who can take off on a given day, much like other government agencies and businesses, to ensure schools can remain open. Leadership needs to revisit this situation, and better communicate and enforce personnel policies before the start of the next school year.”
When announcing the May 1st school closure, School Board Chairman Mike Wooten said on April 19th, ” The Johnston County Board of Education supports its teachers, knowing that the work they perform is lasting and cannot afford to be unnoticed. For the record, the JCPS Board of Education is committed to its teachers, respects the work that builds and strengthens our future, and will continue to support that which advances teaching and learning in Johnston County, this state, nation, and world. Our teachers’ voice is important and valuable to us.”
JoCoReport reached out to Superintendent Renfrow and Chairman Wooten for a comment. They had not responded by our news deadline today.
Seven school cafeterias were open today for students to each breakfast and lunch. However, no transportation was provided by the school system to and from the seven lunchrooms.