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Commissioner Wayne Lewis Holds Press Conference, KEA Responds

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18)– Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis said he wanted to clarify his recent demands for the names of teachers who called in sick.

Commissioner Lewis referenced the high number of absences during teacher sick outs in the last few weeks during the legislative session.

An email was sent to 10 school districts Thursday: Bath, Boyd, Bullitt, Carter, Fayette, Jefferson, Letcher, Madison, Marion, and Oldham.

The email requested the following:

1.)The names of all teachers that called in sick for February 28, March 5-7, and/or March 12-14, 2019 and the day(s) for which each teacher called in sick;

2.) Any and all affidavits or certificates of a reputable physician stating that the employee was ill or caring for an ill family member on the days the employee called in sick, as required by KRS 161.155 for the granting of any sick leave; and

3.) Documentation of the district’s policies, procedures, and/or protocols for collecting sick leave affidavits or certifications and verifying qualification for the granting of sick leave.

Lewis said he did not ask for names of teachers who went to Frankfort, only the names of those who called in sick to school.

“Teachers have the right to protest at the capitol, but teachers do not have the constitutional right to call out sick when they are not sick,” said Lewis.

The Kentucky Education Association released the following statement, “At his press conference earlier today, Commissioner Lewis said that his demand for the names of educators who called in sick on specific days of the legislative session is not a scare tactic. But all educators, including the school administrators who received the Commissioner’s “requests” through his general counsel, know better. By requesting this information through his attorney and citing his broad investigatory and subpoena powers under KRS 156.210, the Commissioner is using the power of his office to compile an “enemies list” of educators for the Bevin Administration. This tactic serves only one purpose — to intimidate educators, public employees, school board members and superintendents across the Commonwealth and keep them from speaking out. Each school district determines their sick leave policies and practices in compliance with the applicable statute. Commissioner Lewis claims that he wants it to remain a local issue, but his heavy-handed exercise of state oversight authority speaks otherwise. We also want to believe the Commissioner when he says that it’s not his goal to discipline individual teachers who called in sick. But if that’s not his goal, then what is he trying to achieve? Who is he targeting? And why now?”

Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis is expected to hold a press conference.

Posted by LEX 18 on Friday, March 15, 2019

Melissa Ratliff

Melissa Ratliff

Melissa is the Executive Producer of Digital Content at LEX 18.
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