Kansas teachers’ union promising lawsuit over law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — The largest teachers union in Kansas promised Monday to file a state-court lawsuit against a measure eliminating guaranteed tenure in public schools and perhaps other policies attached by conservative Republican legislators to an education funding law enacted this year.

Kansas National Education Association leaders announced plans for the legal challenge during a news conference at the 23,000-member union’s Topeka headquarters. David Schauner, the union’s general legal counsel, said the lawsuit will be filed within the next two weeks.

Schauner said the union doesn’t yet know how much of the law will be challenged and declined to discuss the grounds for the lawsuit in detail.

The new law boosts aid to poor school districts by $129 million for the next school year to comply with a Kansas Supreme Court decision in March. The KNEA supports the additional aid but has strongly criticized other provisions.

“The clean funding bill so many had called for was instead a policy-laden attack on teachers, schools and students,” said KNEA spokesman Marcus Baltzell.

The union strongly objects to the tenure provision. It takes effect in July and will eliminate the automatic right of teachers facing dismissal after three years in the classroom to have their cases reviewed by independent hearing officers.

The law also will provide tax credits to corporations bankrolling private-school scholarships for at-risk children and permit professionals with science, math or technology expertise to become teachers without completing college teacher-preparation programs.

Republican Gov. Sam Brownback and GOP legislative leaders said the new education law benefits students and will improve schools.

“I hope KNEA will take no action that threatens funding for our schools and the welfare of our students,” Brownback said in a statement.

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Online:

Kansas National Education Association: http://www.knea.org/

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