Sandwiched between votes to override Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax increase veto and debate to expand Medicaid, it almost got lost in the shuffle. Kansas House lawmakers voted to return state-mandated, guaranteed teacher tenure last week.
In 2014, legislators passed a law that gave local school boards the authority to decide whether to offer guaranteed tenure to its teachers. Last week, a bill to revoke local control stalled in a House committee, but legislators amended a different bill allowing a full House vote on repealing the provision.
Many school boards retained teacher tenure, also referred to as due process, despite the law change in 2014.
The Kansas Association of School Boards testified against the bill during a House committee hearing on Feb. 14.
“KASB believes the final decision on teacher due process procedures should be made by the local board, subject to constitutional protections,” KASB lobbyist, Mark Tallman, told the committee.
Tallman told the committee KASB did not support features of the previous law.
“Our position was not that the previous due process system should be eliminated, but we did believe the previous law, primarily because of court interpretations, had shifted too much authority to the hearing office in teacher due process cases,” Tallman wrote in written testimony to the committee. “We supported revision, not repeal.”
Three union groups testified in support of repealing the 2014 law. Proponents of the legislation argued in committee that teachers don’t feel valued without full job security. Proponents also said the 2014 law protected teachers from arbitrary firings, though no one offered specific examples from the last two years.
Following the committee hearing, Lisa Ochs, the president of a teacher’s union, AFT-Kansas, told reporters the 2014 law leads to teacher retirements and resignations. Data suggest otherwise, however. The Topeka Capitol-Journal repeated Ochs’s erroneous claim on Feb. 17, despite reporting last August that twice as many educators enter Kansas than leave the state.
After passage, the Senate referred the bill to the Judiciary Committee.
Click here to find out how members of the House voted.