School organizations, including KASB, issue statement supporting Dennis

The state’s leading public school organizations and education advocates across Kansas on Thursday rallied to the defense of Deputy Education Commissioner Dale Dennis, who was accused by Senate President Susan Wagle and House Speaker Ron Ryckman of allegedly misallocating school transportation funding.

Dennis has said the calculation used for the transportation funding had been approved by legislators in an effort to make sure densely populated school districts had adequate funding to get students safely back and forth to school. The State Board of Education will meet at 1 p.m. Friday in an executive session to take up the issue.

Leaders of KASB, the Kansas National Education Association, United School Administrators of Kansas, Kansas School Superintendents Association and American Federation of Teachers-Kansas met early Thursday and issued the following statement:

“For decades, Dale Dennis has been the best friend public education and the kids of Kansas have had. The organizations representing teachers, school staff, school boards, and school administrators may have disagreements from time to time, but if there is one thing we all, unequivocally agree upon, it is this: Dale Dennis is the most trustworthy, honest, and respected advocate for children and schools and has been throughout his years of service. Our organizations hold him in the highest regard and we have the fullest confidence in both Dale’s integrity and his service. Dale has always served the citizens and the Legislature with a level of transparency and accountability we can all aspire to. Our Legislature and all Kansans should remain focused on the serious issues facing public schools rather than attacking a man being accused of ensuring Kansas kids have a safe ride to school.”

Meanwhile, many education advocates on social media defended Dennis, saying the allegations made by Wagle and Ryckman, both Republicans, were unfounded and uninformed and were being made to divert attention away from school funding problems. The Kansas Supreme Court has found the school finance system inadequate and has given the Legislature until April 30 to provide a remedy.

Fairfield USD 310 Superintendent Nathan Reed tweeted: I am a Kansan standing up in support of Dale Dennis, a champion for students in this great state for decades. It is time to stop pointing fingers and find solutions!

Fund Our Schools tweeted: It’s time to rise up to these two leaders (Wagle and Ryckman) who have blocked adequate and equitable funding at every turn. They voted for a tax policy that devastated Ks and now they want to destroy the decades long career of the most dedicated and honest man in Ks government.

El Dorado USD 490 Superintendent Sue Givens tweeted: Oh yes, nice red herring by legislative leadership. Focus on something that’s been shared openly for 45 years because it’s best for kids instead of the problems you created in 2012 that did just the opposite.

Numerous legislators, Republican and Democratic, also tweeted support, starting the hashtag #IsupportDale

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