Published on -4/22/2014, 10:08 AM
Hearing the news of the Kansas Senate recently passing a bill to eliminate due process protections for our public school teachers was disheartening for me as a former legislator.
In the 1977 session of the Legislature, I researched hundreds of instances in which superintendents or school boards arbitrarily and without cause terminated experienced and dedicated teachers in Kansas public schools. Usually, the real reason for this action never publicly was revealed because the teacher had given a school board member's or superintendent's child an honest grade or because the board needed to save money by replacing experienced teachers with cheaper rookies or because some stooge complained about the appearance, political stance or other personal quality about the teacher.
In many cases, no advance notice was given, no chance to be represented at a hearing was given, and no chance to respond or even be heard, was afforded the teacher -- incredible.
The bill I authored as chairman of the House Education Committee, I asked the entire committee to sponsor. Working closely with representatives on both sides of the aisle, we were able to shepherd the bill through both the House and Senate. Folks present at the packed hearings were stunned at the tragic, humiliating ridiculous stories personally given by teachers to the unfair, undemocratic and scandalous ways they had been treated. In not a single instance was the termination ever denied or justified by the person or board who had made the decision.
It's so sad job protection and due process promised by our 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution now apparently is about to be eliminated by those duped by the School Board Association, superintendents and principals.
Teachers and parents in Kansas again will have to stand up for protection from this coalition and fight back to retain this constitutional due-process protection.
No school board member or superintendent worth their salt should be empowered with this type of arbitrary, dictatorial and unchecked authority.
Wake up, Kansas, and protect those who are teaching your children from this unbridled, arbitrary power grab.
P.S.: My House district seat in Hutchinson now is occupied by a lawyer who represents the Kansas Association of School Boards. How ironic.
Kansas House of Representatives (1972 to 1977)