Topeka — Kansas House Speaker Ray Merrick's office on Wednesday sought to clear up what he described as misinformation about a bill that does away with tenure for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers.
But the state's largest teacher's union said Merrick's release was wrong on some points and misleading on others.
Have a story idea?Contact Journal-World reporter Peter Hancock:
- (785) 354-4222
On Sunday, Republican leaders passed legislation that increased funding to schools in an effort to address a Kansas Supreme Court order, but also did away with teacher job protections.
On Wednesday, Merrick's press secretary released a memo from the Kansas Office of Revisor of Statutes, which drafts bills for legislators, that explained parts of the bill.
Under the bill, teachers can be fired without being able to appeal through an administrative process.
The revisor's note says that if the teacher feels that he or she was fired for exercising a constitutional right, then that teacher does have a right to a hearing.
But the Kansas National Education Association responded: "This is misleading because it simply acknowledges that the Kansas Legislature doesn’t have the ability to usurp U.S. constitutional rights."
The release from the office of Merrick, R-Stilwell, also said that notification of non-renewal of contract for a teacher will continue to list the reasons for that decision.
But the KNEA said that was wrong. "Teachers can be fired at-will without reason given," under the bill, the organization said.
Supporters of the bill said it was needed because it takes too long to get rid of incompetent teachers, but opponents said tenure protects teachers from being fired for political reasons or if they are advocating on behalf of students in a way the administration doesn't like.