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Friday, Nov. 19th 2021

TEACHERS’ EMPLOYMENT RIGHTS IN MISSOURI AND KANSAS

Prior to 2014, public school teachers in both Missouri and Kansas enjoyed due process protections against arbitrary suspension or dismissal from employment. That changed in Kansas in 2014 when the Legislature abolished teacher tenure and gave individual school districts the opportunity to provide for teacher due process rights via school board policy or a negotiated agreement with the teacher’s local branch of the KNEA (Kansas National Education Association).

Teachers’ employment rights in Missouri require that a school board may not terminate a teacher’s indefinite contract (non-probationary) until after it has served the teacher with written charges specifying the grounds it believes exist for termination and notice of the right to a hearing. At a termination hearing, the teacher may be represented by legal counsel and may cross examine witnesses called by the board against the teacher. The teacher may subpoena witnesses to appear and testify on behalf of the teacher. This has been the law in Missouri since 1969 and can be found by searching on the internet for: V.A.M.S. 168.116

Notwithstanding the backward thinking of Kansas legislators, progressive Kansas school districts have included in their negotiated agreements equivalent terms granting due process rights to teachers who have been terminated, allowing an appeal or ‘review’ via an arbitration proceeding with an outside arbitrator appointed by the American Arbitration Association.

Some negotiated agreements include due process hearing rights to challenge a non-renewal of the teacher’s contract, in addition to termination of employment. Some Kansas districts allow the teacher to agree on an outside hearing officer suggested by the school district, or the appointment of a hearing officer by the American Arbitration Association.

When a teacher is first notified of a proposed non-renewal or a termination of employment, that is the time to consult an attorney. If a teacher learns that he or she is the subject of an investigation for misconduct, an attorney should be consulted immediately. Cohen & Duncan Attorneys LLC has extensive experience in representing teachers in Missouri and Kansas. For an initial no-cost consultation about having our firm represent a teacher, contact either Clifford Cohen (cac@studentrightslawyers.com) or Andrew Duncan (ad@studentrightslawyers.com).


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