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Kentucky Department Of Education Taking Names Of ‘Sickout’ Teachers

Liz Schlemmer

State Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis is asking for the names of teachers who have called in sick to protest education bills at the legislature.

The Kentucky Department of Education has requested the attendance records of teachers in 10 school districts: Bath, Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Fayette, Jefferson, Letcher, Madison, Marion and Oldham.

The Department is also asking for the names and dates school employees have called in sick, with documentation from a doctor’s office and information about each school district’s attendance policy. School districts must submit the information by the close of the business day on Monday, March 18.

“The Kentucky Department of Education takes the closing of schools very seriously,” said Lewis, in an emailed statement.

The statement asserts that as Commissioner, Lewis has the authority to report legal violations or misconduct of any public school employee to the Kentucky Board of Education.

Lewis also wrote that while teachers have a right to advocate for themselves “advocacy should under no circumstances be putting a stop to learning for entire communities.”

The Kentucky Education Association released a response acknowledging that it is possible superintendents could take disciplinary action against teachers who called in sick to protest, but saying it is the Association’s “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,” said KEA officials.

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Policy Reporter, a fellowship position supported by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. She has an M.A. from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Media & Journalism and a B.A. in history and anthropology from Indiana University.
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