LOUISVILLE (WHAS11) -- A Louisville area lawmaker called Thursday's teacher protest "illegal" and thinks there should be some response.
The statement came as JCPS sick-outs forced school to close for a sixth time in two weeks.
“This should not occur there must be a response for this illegal action and make no mistake about it, it’s illegal. Not only is it illegal when you call in and say that you're sick you're either sick or you're lying and I don't think we ought to be sanctioning lying among our public officials including our teachers,” Rep. Jason Nemes said.
Middletown Republican Nemes had tried to encourage teachers not to call out sick again in a statement on Thursday night with a pair of other lawmakers including one of educator's most staunch allies, Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey.
All of them confirmed the most concerning bills to teachers would not see a vote before the session ends.
Still, a crowd gathered, though it appeared about half the size of yesterday.
Representative Nemes and McGarvey agree that lawmakers have to rebuild trust after 2018’s pension bill controversy in which, at the last minute, a sewer bill was revamped into pension reform.
“The teachers voices have been successfully heard. And I think they should celebrate that and I don't think that they needed to be up here today but I understand why they are and I understand why they have distrust still,” McGarvey said.
KEA President Stephanie Winkler and other union groups have encouraged delegations from schools and not widespread sickouts proving that social media groups have had more power than organized labor.
“I think they do trust us but I think they trust us to be advocates for them in the way that we know that we can and they feel that they want to do more,” Winkler said.
Nemes, McGarvey and others WHAS11 spoke with, who had encouraged teachers return to work, would not say what, if anything, should be done to those calling in sick out of protest.
All said that should be up to Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio.
The Kentucky Education Association released this statement:
"Governor Bevin, Commissioner Lewis and some legislators are publicly taking educators to task for calling in sick to come to Frankfort to defend public education and their livelihoods. They argue that what educators are doing is inappropriate and illegal, and that they should be disciplined for it. What they fail to recognize is that their educator constituents and their families simply do not trust them. Given the General Assembly’s recent history with [SB] 151, educators have no reason to believe public statements that are being made about what will or won’t happen this session. Educators know from experience that the General Assembly bears watching, particularly during the closing days of the session.
It is possible that superintendents could take disciplinary action against educators who have called in sick to come to Frankfort to exercise their First Amendment rights. It is our 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. We hope that all superintendents recognize that such a show of political force by public school employees is a gesture of support for public school students, parents, school boards and school administrations all across the state. The educators who have come to Frankfort are teaching the most important lesson of all: one must stand up for one’s principles even in the face of powerful opposition."