WICHITA, Kansas – Hundreds of teachers made their way to Topeka over the weekend to support school funding, and while many are happy with the funding decisions, last minute amendments taking away due process has many concerned about the long term implications.
“They’re trying to I guess silence us.”
It’s one explanation for the amendment removing due process for teachers.
Some are wondering why it was added to the bill that hopes to satisfy the Kansas Supreme Court’s decision to increase funding for public schools.
They say that addition will come with an ugly price tag.
“Do I think that teachers will be unjustly terminated if this goes through? I absolutely believe it,” said Mark Desetti, Kansas National Education Association.
The issue is tenure.
After three years on the job, teachers are automatically renewed every year.
If they aren’t doing a good job, there is a process to get them out of schools.
The teacher must be given notice to what the problem is, a timeline and plan to fix it, and then be given an opportunity to defend themselves if they don’t make enough improvement.
If the bill goes through, that process goes out the window.
“It’s very, very scary, and you’ve got to think about what you’re saying because anything at any moment could be used against you,” said Mark Schultz, USD 259 teacher.
“Our due process law is not job protection, it’s mouth protection, it protects the teacher and allows the teacher to advocate for students, schools, and the profession, and we should not shut that down, we should not chill that advocacy for teachers, said Desetti.
Teachers say if the law goes through, there’s a lot that will be on the line.
“There’s always a chance of somebody saying something at any moment and that’s one of the positives of due process is that if something like that does happen, it will allow them to investigate, sit down and work through the problem, whereas, right now, they can be very, very reactionary to it and say you said this, you’re gone, we don’t need you here anymore, we don’t want you causing problems in our building,” said Shutlz.
If Governor Sam Brownback signs the bill into law, it will take effect on July 1st.
KNEA officials say that they’re discussing their options for a legal recourse should that happen.
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