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EMP represented a school teacher who had taught in the public school for 28 years. The teacher had career status, which meant she could only be terminated if there was just cause for her termination. The Superintendent of her school system recommended that she be terminated for inadequate performance, insubordination, and neglect of duty.

EMP objected to the termination and required that the Superintendent prove there was just cause for the termination at a hearing before a case manager (a neutral arbitrator that hears evidence from the superintendent and the teacher). During the hearing, EMP objected to much of the evidence the Superintendent introduced claiming the evidence had not been disclosed to the teacher prior to the hearing, as required by law.

The case manager agreed with EMP’s objections and excluded the objected-to evidence. The case manager then determined that the Superintendent had not proved there was just cause for the termination. The Superintendent appealed to the County School Board. The School Board relying on the evidence that had been excluded reversed the decision of the case manager and upheld the termination. EMP appealed to Superior Court but lost the appeal. EMP then appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and won a reversal of the termination decision. The School Board appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court. The North Carolina Supreme Court agreed that the School Board improperly terminated the teacher because it relied on evidence that was properly excluded at the initial hearing based on EMP’s legal objections.

Farris v. Burke County Bd. of Educ., 355 N.C. 225, 559 S.E.2d 774 (2002).