Commissioner: Teachers have no right to call in sick when not sick

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis criticized teachers using "sickouts" to cancel classes during the legislative session in a Friday news conference.

Lewis said teachers don't have a constitutional right to call in sick when they are not sick in an effort to force a work stoppage. This comes after Jefferson County Public Schools were closed several days in a two-week period as hundreds went to Frankfort to demonstrate at the State Capitol.

The education commissioner asked for records on Feb. 28, Mar. 5-7 and Mar. 12-14 for school districts that canceled classes those days. 10 school districts received the request: Bath, Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Fayette, Jefferson, Letcher, Madison, Marion and Oldham.

Lewis said in the news conference he asked for information in an effort to prevent school districts closing because of the state legislature. He stated he supports teachers coming together, but he wants districts to work with teachers to ensure classes still happen.

He expressed concerns about lengthier shutdowns if lawmakers take up the state's pension system later this year.

"Maybe we shut down schools for three months," Lewis said.

The Kentucky Education Association defended teachers, saying lawmakers' actions in the 2018 session regarding pension reform led to mistrust. The organization says it is possible superintendents could take disciplinary action against teachers who went to Frankfort when taking a sick day, but it hopes superintendents won't take those steps.

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