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SC lawmakers put halt on Teacher Bill of Rights

According to lawmakers, the Bill of Rights failed to pass because the legal power it gives to educators could have unintended consequences.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — We are into week three of South Carolina senators debating education reform as they pick apart the SC Career Opportunity and Access For All Act.” Early into the debate, Senator Tom Davis from Beaufort introduced an amendment to include a Teacher Bill of Rights.

On Wednesday, state senators spent hours debating two amendments that seemed to answer the requests made by teachers.

“You had one that lays the groundwork that says okay the districts may give teachers some right then you had one that gave teachers some recourse,” explained Senator Shane Martin, who voted for both amendments.

Amendment 18A “Educator Fundamentals for Professional Excellence” included those teacher requests. Amendment 20A “Teacher Bill of Rights” included those same proposals but went a step further, giving teachers more rights.

The Teacher Bill of Rights eliminates unnecessary paperwork, allows teachers to sue a school district if rights are violated and requires schools to give teachers a 30 minute break free from classroom duties.

Senator Karl Allen also voted in favor of the amendment. Allen added, “It’s shocking to know there is not a way administratively in some classrooms, some districts because to be effective they have to be comfortable, we want them to be comfortable to put their best foot forward.”

28 senators voted against the Teacher Bill of Rights. Opponents say the litigation power the proposal gives teachers could have unintended legal consequences.

Senator Rex Rice presented his concerns and reasoning behind his “No” vote.

“One issue you could have a flood of teachers going to the school board when they should be able to work that out administratively with the schools and another if a teacher did go against the school district and they lost they would have to actually pay those legal fees.”

The Teacher Bill of Rights failed to pass with a vote of 28-14. However, elements of that amendment are included in the “Educator Fundamentals for Professional Excellence” passed unanimously, but does not give teachers the legal power to take action against a district if those “fundamentals” are not met.

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