State taking names of teachers who called in sick to protest

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WTVQ) – The Kentucky Department of Education wants the names of every teacher who has called in sick, forcing hundreds of schools to close across the state.

Kentucky’s largest school district closed Thursday for the sixth time in two weeks as teachers continued to protest at the state Capitol. The department sent a letter to 10 school districts on Thursday asking them for teachers’ names and any affidavits or doctor’s notes.

Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said the department takes the closing of schools “very seriously.” A news release from the department says state officials will review the information and report findings to the state Board of Education.

Jefferson County Teachers Association President Brent McKim said the union would represent any member who faces a disciplinary action.

The Kentucky Education Association has released a statement regarding this matter.

Here is the full statement:

“Governor Bevin, Commissioner Lewis and some legislators are publicly taking educators to task for calling in sick to come to Frankfort to defend public education and their livelihoods. They argue that what educators are doing is inappropriate and illegal, and that they should be disciplined for it.  What they fail to recognize is that their educator constituents and their families simply do not trust them.  Given the General Assembly’s recent history with HB 151, educators have no reason to believe public statements that are being made about what will or won’t happen this session.  Educators know from experience that the General Assembly bears watching, particularly during the closing days of the session.

It is possible that superintendents could take disciplinary action against educators who have called in sick to come to Frankfort to exercise their First Amendment rights.  It is our hope that they won’t.  Making educators – who are all citizens of this Commonwealth — choose between keeping their livelihood and exercising their constitutional rights is despicable.  We hope that all superintendents recognize that such a show of political force by public school employees is a gesture of support for public school students, parents, school boards and school administrations all across the state.  The educators who have come to Frankfort are teaching the most important lesson of all: one must stand up for one’s principles even in the face of powerful opposition.”

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