Kansas GOP leader defends plan on teacher tenure

FILE - Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, right, a Stilwell Republican, confers with his communications director, Rachel Whitten, left, during the chamber's session, Friday, March 21, 2014, at the Statehouse in Topeka. (AP Photo/John Hanna)
FILE - Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick, right, a Stilwell Republican, confers with his communications director, Rachel Whitten, left, during the chamber's session, Friday, March 21, 2014, at the Statehouse in Topeka. (AP Photo/John Hanna)

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick is trying to blunt criticism of a proposal passed by legislators to end tenure for public school teachers.

The Stilwell Republican said Wednesday the measure does not strip teachers of their right to due legal process when they face dismissal.

The Kansas National Education Association contends the measure included in a school funding plan will eliminate protections against arbitrary firings. The teachers’ union called Merrick’s comments misleading.

The measure would overturn Kansas law says a teacher who faces being dismissed after three years in the classroom has the right to have his or her case reviewed by an independent hearing officer.

Merrick’s office released a memo from legislative lawyers saying teachers still can have such hearings if they believe their constitutional rights were violated.

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