Rigg: Law would restore teachers’ due process rights



Gov. Sam Brownback poses for a portrait beside the Kansas flag.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback signed a law in 2014 that met the state Supreme Court’s order to restore equalization funding for capital outlay and local option budgets, at the time. At the same time, it took away the right of Kansas teachers to practice due process when facing termination from their jobs.

It was House Bill 2506.

The right to due process for teachers was a six-decade-old policy. It has not been available since Brownback signed the law. Finally, after three years, due process rights may be restored.

Another bill, House Bill 2179, would restore due process rights for teachers in Kansas, if the bill is passed the House of Representatives and Brownback signs it. Luckily, the bill will have an easier time passing through this year after voters selected moderate Republicans and more Democrats in the 2016 general election. That makes the State Legislature as a whole much more moderate than it has been in recent years.

Unfortunately, Brownback may not be so willing to sign it. Before signing HB 2506 to law in April 2014, he praised the legislation. He also said vetoing the bill would have severe consequences for Kansas teachers during a visit at Wichita State that same month.

“If we do that, there will be layoff notices that go out to teachers because of the nature of what the court ruled, saying that the local option budget, which is a substantial bit of funding, will no longer be allowed in the law,” as of July 1, 2014, Brownback said during the visit, which The Sunflower reported.

Concerned teachers reached out to Brownback before he signed the bill. Despite their protests against it, he signed it anyway, taking away due process rights for teachers.

The Kansas Legislature in 2017 is on the right path. Restoring due process rights for Kansas teachers would ultimately prevent unnecessary employment terminations for one of the most important jobs in the world. Students need quality teachers and in return, the teachers deserve our respect.

Hopefully, HB 2179 passes through the House and heads to the governor’s desk. He may not sign it, but with the Legislature being more moderate, there is hope.