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Ky. lawmaker says bill would no longer require state to drop pending educator misconduct cases

The interior of the Kentucky State Capitol, with pillars and high ceilings
LPM
House Bill 300 now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Kentucky House lawmakers passed a new version of a measure to speed up investigations into educator wrongdoing Wednesday.

A measure that requires Kentucky to speed up investigations into educator misconduct cleared the state House Wednesday.

The original version of House Bill 300 would have required the Education Professional Standards Board to drop cases that hadn’t been litigated on the proposed 120-day timeline.

Lawyers for the EPSB said that “retroactive provision” would have forced them to drop more than a hundred pending cases against educators, including dozens accused of inappropriate relationships with students.

But Alexandria Republican Rep. Mike Clines, who sponsored the bill, told his colleagues on the House Floor that he’s made changes and that those cases would no longer be automatically dismissed.

“The [new legislation] removes the retroactive clause to the pending complaints filed with the EPSB,” Clines said Wednesday.

The measure would still force the EPSB to work on a shorter timeline moving forward.

“It makes sure that professional school personnel receive due process and will be treated fairly and professionally by the EPSB staff,” Clines said.

The version that passed the House Wednesday lays out an 80-day timeline for EPSB to investigate cases and come to a decision. That decision could be that further investigation is needed.

The measure also allows the EPSB to defer its decision when educators are facing criminal allegations, allegations of child abuse or neglect, or when the educator is appealing a personnel decision through a tribunal process.

In a statement, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Robin Field Kinney said despite the removal of the retroactive provision and other changes, the proposed shortened timeline is still problematic. Kinney said EPSB does not have the staff to comply with the 80-day timeline, which she described as “more severe” than the 120-timeline proposed in the original bill.

“Without additional funding for both the EPSB and the Administrative Hearings Branch of the Attorney General’s Office, the imposition of these timelines will lead to dismissal of future matters due to the inability to comply with the stringent timelines,” Kinney wrote.

“These measures fail to elevate the teaching profession by ensuring thorough review and investigation for accused teachers. Instead, they create pathways for bad actors to escape accountability due to unreasonably short timelines for legal processes to occur.”

HB 300 heads to the Senate.

This story was updated with a statement from Kentucky's commissioner of education.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.