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Wake public schools to close May 1 for teacher rally

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­RALEIGH ­— Facing requests from nearly 2,000 teachers to take the day off, the Wake County Public School System announced that it would cancel all classes on May 1.

That’s the day state educators are planning to protest outside the General Assembly in Raleigh to ask for pay raises for school employees, the hiring of more counselors and nurses, and for the state to expand Medicaid.

In announcing the closing on Wednesday, board of education chairman Jim Martin said the number of time-off requests is only expected to grow as the protest nears. “The number of requests far exceeds our number of available substitute teachers, which means we cannot ensure adequate instruction and supervision on that day,” Martin said in a statement. “This decision is not made lightly. We know that this schedule change puts a burden on families.”

May 1 is now an optional teacher workday. A make-up day for students will not be needed to meet the required number of instructional hours this year. Additional information about conflicts with school events will be released later.

Martin indicated in his statement that he will support district employees who choose to protest.

“Our teachers are not taking the day off,” Martin said. “Instead, they are taking leave from the classroom to advocate for public education, for their students and for your children. I ask that you give them your support.”

Critics of the protest, organized by the N.C. Association of Educators, have questioned why the event was scheduled on a school day.