Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Jeter's charter-bill quotes attributed to wrong man

I owe Rep. David Lewis, R-Hartnett, an apology.

My recent front-page article on a charter-bill amendment introduced by Rep. Charles Jeter and a follow-up blog post  (now revised)  indicated that Lewis had spoken in favor of that amendment. I just learned from the Associated Press that the comments attributed to Lewis referring to a hostile work environment were in fact made by Jeter, a Mecklenburg Republican.


Lewis emailed me to say the quotes were wrong.

"While I,  along with 64 other members,  did vote for the Amendment, I have never commented publicly on the subject,"  he wrote.  "I do agree largely with Rep. Jeter's argument that the public is not harmed by withholding the charter teacher's name while fully disclosing everything else.  I only bring this to your attention because I am proud of my efforts to increase transparency whenever possible and this article, which has been picked up by periodicals statewide, implies I vocally supported and helped carry the amendment which seems to be contrary to that effort."

I've been covering issues related to charter school salaries and compliance with the state's Public Records Law since March.  When political reporter Jim Morrill told me about the amendment,  I checked the legislative records,  did a phone interview with Jeter and wrote the story.  I added quotes from the AP article,  believing they had a second voice speaking strongly to the issue.  After I forwarded Lewis'  email to the AP, they confirmed that Jeter's remarks had been erroneously attributed to Lewis,  who did not take part in the debate.

Lewis forwarded a 17-minute audio clip of the debate,  which provided some interesting details.  Several representatives,  including Jeter and Rep. Rob Bryan,  R-Mecklenburg,  said they'd like to see future discussion of removing even more personnel information from public view,  either for charter employees and/or for teachers in traditional public schools.  Jeter's argument is that salary rosters such as the Observer publishes for employees of school districts,  public universities,  city,  state and county governments create strife when the same is done for charter schools because charter teachers are not on the state pay scale.  In charter schools  --  and in many Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools that are involved in merit pay programs  --  teachers with similar experience and credentials may earn different salaries.

In introducing the amendment,  which simply states that names of charter school employees are not subject to public disclosure,  Jeter said that  "Charter school teachers are not state employees.  Charter school teachers do not get to participate in the state pension plan."

Two legislators noted that charter boards actually decide whether their employees participate.  One of them suggested  "displacing"  the amendment to get clarification,  but Jeter declined,  saying the pension issue is not critical.  "Teachers' names should not have to be published for ridicule,"  he said.

Two Democratic women,  Rep. Carla Cunningham of Mecklenburg and Rep. Verla Insko of Orange,  suggested that disclosing pay by name reveals whether female teachers are being paid equally for equal work.  Jeter responded that names are not always gender-specific.  Bryan added that  "just like in private business,  people bring discrimination claims all the time and that information can be discovered,  so I think that's really a non-issue." 

It's now up to the Senate and House to reconcile their different versions of the charter bill,  which addresses several issues other than disclosure of names.  Gov. Pat McCrory has threatened to veto the whole bill if the amendment shielding names remains.

However it's resolved,  it looks like we can expect more efforts next year to scale back the amount of public information that's subject to public review.


Anonymous said...

He still voted for it.. Who cares? It's all a waste of tax payers time and money. They revive public money. They should disclose the information. We should not start letting government cherry pick. No one cared before. I believe the comments of removing traditional schools names is disingenuous. He could have added to this bill. I believe this man to be a liar.

Anonymous said...

Ann, what is the NC teacher turnover rate for 2013/14? Are principals expressing concern?

Anonymous said...

What a crock. Problems with females making less than males? What if its males making less than females? That must be OK? Bug off and let the ones in charge do their jobs. Liberals are always sniffing around and seeing little green men. Nose problems.
If there is a legit problem with gender as laughable and asinine as that is, then let the administrators who are in on it determine that and what action is to be taken if there is any merit to such an imaginary problem that cuts both ways.
Cut the busy body meddling. Mind your own business.
Right now that is 100% bogus.

McCrory better get lost on this issue or he will be a one term govenor. He might can run for mayor again though.

Charter School person

bobcat99 said...

Public money = public disclosure. The GOP, often rightly, accused the Democrats of being too secretive when they ruled the state. Why would they want to turn around and be the same way?

Pamela Grundy said...

It's public money, the public should know how it's being spent.

In addition, given the time and money required to sue over employment discrimination, depending on "discrimination claims" to promote workplace fairness is far from an effective strategy.

If discrepancies in charter salaries are based on genuine merit, then there should be no problem with making them public. It should be clear to everyone at the school why certain employees make more than others. If publication of salaries causes dissent, or reveals clear discrepancies along the lines of gender, etc., the problem most likely lies in the salary decisions, not in their exposure.

Unknown said...


I was greatly taken by Representative David R. Lewis’ clarification of his position in support of shielding teacher names while fully disclosing everything else. What got my interest is he is also the co-chair of the Elections Committee. That committee took a 180 degree view of voter identification. Full disclosure is the key element.

Now I happen to support Voter ID. The idea is it protects a free democracy. Odd though. I support disclosure of teacher names and salaries for the same reason.

I can’t get my hands around how partial identification is just as effective as the full kind when it comes to protecting the state.

Bolyn McClung

Anonymous said...

New boss, same as the old boss!!

Anonymous said...

anon 7:18
charter school person, there is nothing wrong with a little transparency and some insightful reporting regarding many local charter schools might help too. Parents need to have all the information needed to make an informed decision and not merely the token talking points provided by the charter schools.

personally I think charters have it made, none of the local writers seem to be interested in disclosing certain unflattering details about many of the charter schools in this region.

and further more, if my tax dollars are going to support your country club charter school then it is my business pal!

Shamash said...

Anon 1:08am.

" none of the local writers seem to be interested in disclosing certain unflattering details about many of the charter schools in this region."

Disclose away...

What's stopping you?

Same as all the alleged things going on at the suburban schools.

If anyone knows anything, why not let us all know?

Anonymous said...

there they go again with their ignorance

the amount of money given to each charter school is 100% public so what is your problem ?

did you hear that? do you need a repeat?

how it is distributed is 100% the administration business NOT yours ....

so shaddup

what about a breakdown on how much annual tax is paid by the parents in charter schools as compared to the annual tax paid by public schools?

should that be a factor?

how about a breakdown on all items such as toilet paper? eating utensils, can foods, cleaning material for floors, brooms and mops, pc products, etc etc ?

teachers or administrators annual salary is all included under the gross lump sum payment to each charter school ... you got the figure so no breakdown needed ...

thats a private matter because some staff are more productive or successful than others ...

bug off ...

highly successful charter school

Anonymous said...

It's public money and should be open to the public. No one had a problem with this for traditional public schools. This is a waste of time. I can't believe these men call them self Republicans.. I don't care if charters find this disruptive. If they don't like it, become private schools. Give the tax payer's their money back and move on.

Anonymous said...

Jeter was against it before he was for it and... Now he is against it.

No surprise to those who followed his flip flops on the Huntersville town council. He manages to stake out three positions at the same time.

Bradford has gotten him nervous. Maybe he should take a lower profile.