House sends teacher due process and anti-bullying bills to SenateScott Rothschild
A bill restoring teacher due process protections was approved by the House on Thursday but faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
House members approved HB 2757 on a 73-48 vote.
“It’s going to a drawer in the Senate,” said state Rep. Clay Aurand, R-Belleville, who is chairman of the House Education Committee and had unsuccessfully pushed for an amendment that would have restored due process to teachers who had it prior to 2014.
The House-approved legislation would give Kansas teachers who work three-plus years in the same school district the right to a due process hearing before an independent hearing officer.
That process was repealed in 2014 by conservative Republicans as part of a school finance funding debate. Since then, moderate Republicans, Democrats and teachers’ unions have sought to reinstate the law.
Supporters of HB 2757 said it was needed to give teachers job protections, which would allow teachers to better advocate on behalf of students and other teachers. They also said it would help in recruiting and retaining teachers, show respect for the teaching profession and right a wrong when legislators three years ago without warning took due process away.
Opponents of the bill, said local school districts should be free to make the decision on whether to offer due process procedures. They also said the former due process procedures made it difficult for districts to terminate the contracts of ineffective teachers.
KASB’s position is that the final decision on teacher due process procedures should be made by the local board, subject to constitutional protections.
In testimony on Jan. 24 on a similar bill, KASB Associate Executive Director for Advocacy Mark Tallman said, “the strong consensus was that our members believe local boards, who are the employers and managers of the school system and are responsible for student achievement and management of district funds, should make the decision on removing teachers. We also support an appeal or recourse if boards make decisions that are arbitrary or capricious. However, we do not believe the previous system was the best way to achieve those two goals.”
In other business, the House, on a 120-1 vote, sent to the Senate HB 2758, which would require school districts to post bullying prevention plans on their website, share copies with students and file with the State Board of Education.
Although bullying prevention policies have been required for more than a decade, proponents said students and parents still face barriers knowing how to report issues and having schools respond, which they say contributes to mental health issues and suicide.
KASB testified as neutral on the bill, saying the additional requirements would not be difficult for most schools to implement, but schools were struggling to address major social trends affecting student behavior, mental health and family support.