State subpoenas JCPS teacher sickout records

Districts in Oldham, Bullitt counties also subpoenaed

State subpoenas JCPS teacher sickout records
The Bevin administration has subpoenaed records from JCPS regarding last month’s teacher sickouts across the district.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Bevin administration has subpoenaed records from JCPS regarding last month’s teacher sickouts across the district.

A JCPS spokesman confirmed the Kentucky Labor Cabinet issued the subpoena Wednesday.

Teachers called out sick in great numbers six times last month in order to rally in Frankfort as legislators considered several education-related measures. JCPS canceled classes on those six days, and several other area districts also missed class time due to high sickout rates.

Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis requested -- and received -- the names of the JCPS teachers who called out sick, but insisted none of them would be disciplined as long as the sickouts ended. The legislative session ended several days later, on March 28.

Oldham County and Bullitt County schools also received the same subpoenas Wednesday.

That afternoon, Bevin addressed the subpoenas on WHAS Radio, saying those who weren’t dishonest have nothing to worry about.

“If people pretended to be sick when they weren’t sick and did not use the system as it is intended to be used, then arguably there should be cause for concern,” Bevin said. “It should be the cause of concern for the administration, of the people in charge of that process, because an abuse of the process should be of concern to taxpayers at every level.”

The Kentucky Education Association released a statement on the subpoenas Wednesday evening, targeting Governor Matt Bevin.

"Matt Bevin has proven he has no guiding ethical principles when it comes to undermining the rights of those he disagrees with, and we are not surprised by his latest actions. Educators have not and will not fall victim to threats and intimidation no matter where it comes from. Whether it’s Commissioner Lewis or his Labor Cabinet doing his bidding, the governor’s petty political maneuvers will not deter KEA and our members from our mission to advocate for a quality education for every child in Kentucky. We will be ready for whatever punitive barriers the governor attempts to threaten us with.
"These subpoenas and the threat of punishment aimed at educators is another example of his attempt to bully and intimidate Kentuckians who disagree with his policies. For educators, this action again perpetuates the mistrust that they have with those who were elected to represent them in Frankfort. Educators remember that the sewer bill was forced through under the cover of night in order to undermine the efforts of those who opposed it. We remember the Commissioner Lewis asked for the names of educators in ten districts but claimed that his actions were not to be seen as threatening. We remember that the governor called a special session last December in an effort to force through a bill with nearly the same language that educators fought back against in the sewer bill.
"It’s no accident that the governor’s administration issued these subpoenas less than 24 hours after announcing that he will call a special legislative session early this summer. It would come as no surprise to educators across the Commonwealth if he called legislators back to Frankfort prior to the end of the school year, daring educators to initiate another sickout and possibly face discipline and cash fines in order to exercise their first amendments rights at the state capitol. However, we will not be deterred.
“Should we site that this is yet another example that perpetuates the mistrust that educators have with those elected to represent them in Frankfort? And maybe remind of them? (The sewer bill passed at the last minute, the fact of commissioner said that this wasn’t about punishment, Governor saying he would call a special session, etc. )”

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