KNEA lawsuit over school funding bill expected Monday

TOPEKA, Kansas – The state’s largest teachers union says it will file a lawsuit against the state Monday over its school funding bill.

Union officials said back in June that the suit would be directed at the policy changes of HB 2506 rather than the funding portion of the bill.

“There are a number of pieces which we think are harmful to kids, to teachers, to educators generally, but we haven’t come to a final decision about how broad our complaint will be,” David Schauner, KNEA’s general counsel, told reporters at a news conference in June.

The biggest issue among others the union had with it was over the due process rights for teachers that were removed when the funding bill became law. It removed a teacher’s right to an administrative hearing if they are being terminated by a school district and have more than three years of service.

“One disgruntled parent and you could lose your job, your career,” teacher Shelly Robinson said.

While some school districts like USD 259 still have the protections in place, many others statewide do not. There’s concern it could become a bargaining chip.

“What 2506 did was take the safety net out, and now it’s a cancer in negotiations where it creates adversarial positioning in negotiations,” state Rep. Jim Ward, (D) – Wichita, said. “Some districts have protections and some don’t. But all districts will be talking about it.”

That funding bill is a result of the state Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year that schools needed to be more equally funded. But the state will likely face a legal challenge to what was added on.

“We will see when they file,” Gov. Sam Brownback said. “I was really pleased that the lower courts said that the equity piece of the suit is resolved, but we’ll see what they file for a lawsuit.”

The suit is expected to be filed Monday morning in Shawnee County District Court.

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