FRANKFORT, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear told Gov. Matt Bevin in a letter Tuesday that he'll take Bevin and his Labor Cabinet to court over the subpoenas recently issued related to this year's teacher sickouts.
Beshear claimed in the three-page letter that was shared with media that the subpoenas were “unlawful, and that any attempt to punish teachers engaged in a ‘sick-out’ would violate their First Amendment Rights.”
Teachers from across the state, most notably Jefferson County, converged on Frankfort throughout this year’s legislative session, protesting multiple education-related bills up for consideration.
The sickouts were so widespread that several districts had to cancel classes, including five missed days in Jefferson County.
Along with JCPS, districts in Oldham and Bullitt counties also received subpoenas to turn over the names of the teachers who participated in the sickouts.
Beshear told media Tuesday he believes Bevin’s actions are bordering on being threats, coercion, and intimidation, which he said would make them more unlawful.
Beshear also said the Labor Cabinet can’t subpoena the names because it’s not the teachers’ employer; the school systems are.
“This is the Labor Cabinet trying to step in the place of the school district to go after teachers when the school district doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong,” Beshear said. “And that raises a serious and significant conflict. Why? Because the speech here was teachers’ speech against our state government and what it was doing.”
Beshear was asked whether his letter to Bevin was a political move. He said while he is running for governor, he still has a job to do as attorney general.
Bevin and the Labor Department will have 10 days to rescind the subpoenas before Beshear said he would take legal action against them.
“I urge the Labor Cabinet to voluntarily withdraw these unlawful subpoenas,” Beshear wrote. “If it refuses, I call on the Governor to order the Labor Cabinet to withdraw them. If you will not do your legal duty, I will not hesitate to take appropriate action to protect the public from their own government.”