Archive for Monday, June 9, 2014

KNEA announces plans to file lawsuit over teacher tenure

June 9, 2014, 11:49 a.m. Updated June 9, 2014, 4:52 p.m.


KNEA general counsel David Schauner speaks Monday during a news conference announcing the group plans to sue over House Bill 2506.

KNEA general counsel David Schauner speaks Monday during a news conference announcing the group plans to sue over House Bill 2506.

— The state’s largest teachers union on Monday said it would file a lawsuit challenging the recently approved school bill that repeals tenure rights for public school teachers, gives tax breaks for corporations that provide private-school scholarships and allows some people to teach without an education degree.

“There are a lot of really serious harms that can come from this bill,” said Kansas National Education Association President Karen Godfrey.

While KNEA officials said they would challenge the bill signed into law by Gov. Sam Brownback, they said they hadn’t yet decided on how broad a challenge to make.

During a news conference, most of the remarks from KNEA officials dealt with the part of the bill that takes away the right of teachers to have an administrative hearing in the event of dismissal.

House Bill 2506 “has done a great disservice to the 35,000 people who work their rear ends off every day of the year educating kids,” said David Schauner, general counsel for the KNEA.

Mike Curran, the lead KNEA negotiator for teachers in the Baldwin City school district, said the removal of due process rights for teachers would hurt education.

“So, without due process, do I have to make sure the right kids get A’s in my class, so I don’t get the wrong parents mad. Because if they get mad, then I’m out of a job without due process,” said Curran, a high school math teacher.

But advocates of removing tenure said it would allow schools to fire bad teachers more quickly. Senate President Susan Wagle, R-Wichita, said “ ... it is apparent that the KNEA is more concerned about its members than student achievement and outcomes.”

The bill came in response to the Kansas Supreme Court ruling requiring the state to increase funding to poorer school districts.

Republican legislators added the controversial changes in education policy to the funding measure.

Brownback defended the legislation, saying, “The education bill provided $129 million in funding to classrooms and for property tax relief, it provided additional pay for ‘master teachers,’ and it returned local control to school districts. This is a good bill that benefits Kansas children.”

He added, “I hope KNEA will take no action that threatens funding for our schools and the welfare of our students.”

Schauner said he didn’t think a lawsuit would affect the funding portion of the bill.

Schauner noted that last month a court in North Carolina ruled unconstitutional a similar law there that would have gotten rid of tenure for teachers.

North Carolina Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled that the law violated teachers’ employment contracts with school boards and that the law was an unconstitutional taking of teachers’ property rights.

Schauner said he expected the legal challenge from the KNEA to be filed by the end of the month in state district court in Shawnee County.

In addition to constitutional challenges to the bill, Schauner said the KNEA may challenge the bill on how it was passed. During the legislative process, Democrats said some parts of the bill were added in during meetings that were in violation of the Kansas Open Meetings Act. Supporters of the bill denied this accusation.

In addition to the upcoming court battle, KNEA officials said they would try to get people involved in the Aug. 5 primaries and November general election.


Larry Sturm 3 years, 6 months ago

Challenge the complete law it is terrible.

Brock Masters 3 years, 6 months ago

I wonder if the KNEA has standing and if they do, on what grounds will they base their lawsuit.

Dave Trabert 3 years, 6 months ago

So KNEA is opposed to efforts designed to make it easier to remove ineffective teachers from classroom. They are opposed to allowing school boards to hire who they believe to be qualified teachers with real-world experience in their field but don't have an education degree. And KNEA also is opposed to low income parents an opportunity to send their children to the school they believe is the best fit.

Yep, it's all about the kids.

Frank McGuinness 3 years, 6 months ago

"So KNEA is opposed to efforts designed to make it easier to remove ineffective teachers from classroom."

The problem Dave, is that without due process a teacher may or may not be ineffective but we won't know because they can just be terminated without justifiable cause. Maybe the principal didn't like the teacher?

"They are opposed to allowing school boards to hire who they believe to be qualified teachers with real-world experience in their field but don't have an education degree."

Maybe you want teachers without education degrees but the consensus among parents is that people who educate should have educational degrees and not just rely on "real world experience". Thankfully that would exclude people like yourself from indoctrinating my children with your nonsense. Oh hey kids today we will have Mr. Laffer teaching economics so you can all make the same mistakes Kansas has....

Please spare us your concerns about low income people. How much did you cringe to even type that?

Jeff Plinsky 3 years, 6 months ago

Due process rights simply give experienced teachers an objective hearing officer (one not connected to the board or the union) to decide whether their dismissal(s) were merited. It is simply a way to protect good teachers from bad principals and boards.

If KPI is so worried about bad teachers, why are they not also worried about bad admin and boards?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 6 months ago

He's learned how to empty his cookies and history and keep liking his post. Get a real job Dave.

Dave Trabert 3 years, 6 months ago

Sorry to burst your bubble, but none of those 'likes' are my own. Citizens are catching on that institutional demands take priority over the individual needs of students...and they don't like it.

Sam Crow 3 years, 6 months ago

Some people refuse to believe that others simply disagree with them.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

Some people know how the Internet works, Sam. I don't refuse to believe that Dave has some followers in high places, including judges. I don't doubt there are voters that agree with him, as wrong as he is. That's not the issue.

This post doesn't follow the usual patterns. He gained an abnormal number of likes in a short amount of time. He could have put out the bat signal and gained some followers from some libertarian forum, but those people generally would have also commented, and we'd have seen that there were suddenly a bunch of new posters in the forum. That's a typical pattern, although also not one that has happened with his posts in the past. Now, this could all just be a single enthusiastic supporter with way too much time on his hands and 20 sock puppet accounts, but it's definitely fishy.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

I hear you can buy citizens to click on things. Works for Facebook. I bet it also works for the Kochs.

Steve Swaggerty 3 years, 6 months ago

You can only vote once! Dave's Family and friends may have voted.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

His previous comments generate at most one or two likes, and whoever is clicking on the buttons isn't showing up to post. Sock puppet army is my guess. I wonder if that's what they teach in the Koch school of social media these days.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 6 months ago

Are you against making administrators do their job? They are the ones who evaluate teachers. If they follow the process, they can get rid of bad teachers. Plenty of bad teachers have good evaluations. Why is that? You are blaming the wrong people for bad teachers.

Steve Swaggerty 3 years, 6 months ago

Not so sure it's as much about firing ineffective Teachers as it is about "revenge" firings. Couple of examples: 1) Long time Teacher flunks a new Superintendants child, they get fired. Successful Coach Cuts or (doesn't give enough playing time) to a Board President's Child from an Athletic Team and they are terminated. With the wording of the new Law School Districts don't have to have a reason to fire a teacher, they can just do it.

Scott Morgan 3 years, 6 months ago

Much much more than you know............but worse think about the instructor who speaks up against a poor academic program favored by sub-administrators.

Sub-administrators who so fear the high paying jobs they have will not stand up to those above him or her. Folks really think about this.

Sam Crow 3 years, 6 months ago

If you can use an extreme mythical example, I guess I can use one too.

A female 30 year old high school teacher is discovered to be an exotic dancer in a bar. Because of the whisper campaign she is terminated by the board. Because she has done nothing illegal or immoral she chooses to appeal the firing through the entire process. She is allowed to because of her tenure. In the meantime she loses her effectiveness in the classroom.
With the wording of the new law, the district wouldnt need another reason to terminate her. They could just do it.

Jim Slade 3 years, 6 months ago

"She is allowed to because of her tenure"

Wrong. It would be "she is allowed to because an independent review council found her termination unjustified".

3 years, 6 months ago

So let us now teach the ideology of Dave Trabert and the Koch's. We will lose so many ideologically ineffective teachers we won't need the school boards. Who would want to hire those with real-world, really-existing Wall Street free market capitalistic experience now that it is a proven failure?? It collapsed in 2008 remember? Do you really think that the voting public believes that the same old predatory business ethic will return our society back to an equal & just one? Experienced losers like the conservatives do. That's who.

Paul R Getto 3 years, 6 months ago

Extend the concept to Doctors. "i was in the hospital once, so I can practice medicine." Fire doctors if their patients die because they smoke and drink to excess.

Julius Nolan 3 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Dave for promptly spouting the Koch line.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

I'd give you twelve likes, but I don't have an army of sock puppets.

MerriAnnie Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

Dave works for the Kochs. They pay him to say these things.

Sometimes I actually feel sorry for him, but then I remember how damaging it is for the Kochs to hire so many mouthpieces to spout their garbage and I just shake my head in disgust.

Dave Trabert 3 years, 6 months ago

Not true. I work for the trustees of Kansas Policy Institute. Interesting, though, that you seem to think that anything with which you disagree is 'garbage.' The declining ability to have civil discourse of issues is one of the greatest threats to personal freedom.

Julius Nolan 3 years, 6 months ago

Actually Dave, you work for the Kochs under their disguise as Kansas Policy Institute. Actually a more fitting meaning of KPI is the Koch Policy of Ignorance. Dave, obviously you are well paid, how else could you face yourself in mirror every morning.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

You work for the KPI, which is mostly funded by the Kochs and was created for and by the Kochs. It's a technicality to claim you work for anyone but the Kochs. You know which side your bread is buttered on.

The real threat to personal freedom is living in an oligarchy where a wealthy few are able to have an outsized influence on the political process.

Eric MacDonald 3 years, 6 months ago

If you want to change the law; campaign and run for election. The idea of running to a judge and inviting them to inject themselves into the political process is destructive to the judiciary, and undermines the representative form of government. There is no obvious legal reason that can be pointed to that would allow the judiciary to interfere in this case except through the artful manipulation of the law. While there are exceptions to judicial involvement this is not one of those cases. It is a purely political issue.

Jeff Plinsky 3 years, 6 months ago

Nope. It's not just political. It hurts real people, who stand to lose real jobs. Due Process rights are property, and cannot be removed without due process, according to the US Constitution. A superior court in North Carolina recently ruled that way, on this very issue. There will be a lot of appeals, and no one is quite sure how it will turn out, but this sort of thing is the VERY REASON the judicial branch was created by the founding fathers - to interpret law, and determine whether it is constitutional.

And as for the election part - teachers will definitely be voting in November!

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 3 years, 6 months ago

I'll bet you like it when they overturn a law you disagree with.

MerriAnnie Smith 3 years, 6 months ago

You'd be pretty naive to think the Tea Party legislature and governor are not manipulating our laws and sometimes flat out ignoring them. Why do you think Brownback wanted the constitution changed so he could appoint judges?

Phil Minkin 3 years, 6 months ago

IT'S NOT TENURE!! It is the right to appeal firing without sufficent reason given.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

"And KNEA also is opposed to low income parents an opportunity to send their children to the school they believe is the best fit."

Parents have this choice as we speak. Scholarships are available at most private schools. Private schools cannot necessarily guarantee a better education this we know.

The real issue is being masqueraded with smoke and screen.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 6 months ago

"So KNEA is opposed to efforts designed to make it easier to remove ineffective teachers from classroom."

Ineffective teachers by who's measure? Don't all school districts have a tool to deal with such situations?

There is a huge promotion of big government coming by way of Topeka,Kansas from this administration and spokespeople.

Mike George 3 years, 6 months ago

Due to somewhat inconsistent findings since the 1960's by the Supreme Court concerning due process and property rights, I would suppose that some court will need to again take up whether continued employment as a public school teacher is a constitutionally protected property right and subject to due process. So I somewhat agree with Mr. Plinsky, although his statement that the due process rights ARE property is not universally supported by the Court's findings. And Mr. Minkin is very correct - it isn't tenure. The media and legislature seem to have picked that word to misrepresent the process. That may be on purpose, however, since the legislature apparently suffers from tenure paranoia and can't get past that. For any readers who say that it is not a concern to legitimate teachers, there are a number of documented cases over the last 30 years in Kansas in which the teacher's due process exposed serious problems with the school boards and administrators. And it can be something as obvious as a personality conflict, which seems to be handled better in private businesses. I don't know what the ultimate solution is, but it isn't what was just made into recent Kansas law.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

Dave is opposed to evidence-based practices and giving true context, but in favor of KNEA slamming. Yup. It's all about the kids, Dave. All about the kids. If those kids have the last name Koch an pay you to come here and post things, anyway. Trabert is a paid lobbyist who primarily gets funding from the Kochs. He's come here to post propaganda and spin on behalf of his corporate sponsors.

Stuart Sweeney 3 years, 6 months ago

This law is about supressing a voice that may be in opposition to the official policy. Denying due process is just the hammer. The ultimate goal of these laws are to put public education dollars into private hands and are not about education. You think everyone would get a good education in the private sector when all schools are private? Wait until it is all private and ultimate goal of the schools are to answer to the stockholders!

David Reber 3 years, 6 months ago

An oft overlooked fact about teacher due process is that Boards are not required to have such a hearing to fire a teacher. Bad teachers can be and are fired without due process hearings. However, if the teacher believes the action is unjust, they can request a hearing. The fact that hearings are relatively rare shows that the law was doing exactly what it was intended to do: preventing unjust firing of teachers.

Trabert's puppeteers don't give a rodent's rectum about kids or education. They oppose due process because lack of job security makes good people less willing to speak up, and therefore easier to exploit.

David Reber 3 years, 6 months ago

And let's not be fooled by Brownback's "local control" talking point, either. Remember last year, when he signed a bill REMOVING local control regarding payroll deductions, and his cronies pushed a bill that would have rendered ALL local contracts - the ones signed by locally-elected Boards - NULL and VOID. Yeah, Brownie is all about local control.....Not.

Sam Crow 3 years, 6 months ago

Unless my bifocals fail me, I read that you personally negotiated a contract that has within it, a modified form of tenure. Another district doesnt have to do that.
Sounds like local control to me.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

Good point, David. He's repeatedly taken local control away on a wide variety of issues, not just education.

Sam Crow 3 years, 6 months ago

It would appear that notice has come down from mount KNEA to change the word tenure to due process. Tenure must not have polled very well.

The NEA has referred to it as tenure in mailings that have come to my house. The teachers have referred to it as tenure. The law calls it tenure. Only when it became controversial did tenure need to be sanitized into due process.

Sanitizing words has been typical of liberals. Tax increases became revenue enhancements. Massive spending increases became additional investments. Global warming became climate change. Now climate change is becoming climate chaos.

Call it what you may, but it is what it is. Not unlike similar work rules with the UAW or other unions, it is job protection for the incompetent.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

I find references to "job protection for the incompetent" particularly ironic from people with lifetime appointments.

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

I also find the accusation of language shifts for the sake of Orwellian persuasion to be ironic coming from conservatives. Seriously. Death taxes instead of inheritance tax? School choice instead of privatized schools? Job providers instead of rich people or investors? And geeze Louise, even "climate change" was conservative pollster Frank Luntz' idea under Bush.

Physician, heal thyself.

David Reber 3 years, 6 months ago

You're wrong, Sam Crow. The law (KSA 72-5436 through 5447) does NOT call it "tenure." It does, however, contain multiple references to "due process."

Sam Crow 3 years, 6 months ago

To quote Peter Hancock in a May 19 story, " The law in Kansas that the Legislature repealed for K-12 teachers was originally known as the Tenure Act."

James Howlette 3 years, 6 months ago

Speaking of entirely different states with different rules...

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