Firearms safety debate delayed; new tenure and bullying bills introduced

House Republican leadership decided Thursday to pass over a debate on guns safety programs in public schools, and separate bills on teacher due process and bullying prevention policies were introduced and sent directly to the House Committee of the Whole. 

The House had been scheduled to debate HB 2460, which would authorize firearm safety education programs in public schools; but require that if districts have such programs they must follow state curriculum based on the National Rifle Association’s Eagle the Eagle program or Kansas Wildlife and Parks hunter safety program. 

On Thursday, House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton, moved to pass over the bill. House leaders later explained that in the wake of the Florida school shooting, they wanted to develop a more comprehensive response to school safety. 

KASB has opposed the bill in testimony because it restricted school firearm safety instruction to a particular set of programs. The bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. John Whitmer, R-Wichita, told KASB he was prepared to offer an amendment to allow other “evidence-based programs” to be used. Other amendments were also expected. KASB Testimony 

KASB will follow development as the Legislature considers possible responses to school safety, including gun policies. School leaders are encouraged to share your thoughts about improving school safety with Legislators. 

House leadership also promised to hold debates on separate bills concerning teacher due process and bullying after they were paired together by the House Education Committee in HB 2578. The House Taxation Committee voted Wednesday to introduce HB 2757, due process for terminating teacher contracts, and HB 2758, publication of school district bullying policies. The tax committee is an exempt committee, so these bills are exempt from deadlines. 

By sending the bills directly to the House committee of the whole, no hearings are required. The subject matter of both bills received hearings and extensive discussion in the House Education Committee. 

Last session, the House voted to add an amendment that would restore the teacher due process law repealed in 2014 into another bill, but no action has been taken by the Kansas Senate. 

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