Kansas labor department calls Shawnee Mission’s unilateral teacher contracts a prohibited practice

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Kansas Department of Labor ruled Friday that a unilateral three-year contract adopted by the Shawnee Mission School Board for teachers was a prohibited practice.

Two weeks ago the school board approved the contract without approval from Shawnee Mission’s National Education Association.

The order for Shawnee Mission to “cease and desist” from imposing terms and conditions of professional service of its proposed unilateral contract for school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 came just moments before a deadline for teachers in the district to decide upon the unilateral contract proposed for 2019-2020.

Ongoing negotiations to approve a contract for this year failed again last month.

Shawnee Mission School District released a statement Friday saying:

“While the district disagrees with the decision, we remain committed to working with NEA-SM to resolve the matter of future compensation, benefits, and working conditions. As such, the district has reached out to KNEA to discuss the decision and will work to identify next steps. The district continues to believe it is essential to reach agreement on a contract that is in the best interest of teachers and is fiscally responsible.”

Details on how many teachers accepted this year’s contract before the deadline were not available Friday. One teacher resigned earlier this week with an impassioned speech at the Shawnee Mission School Board Meeting.

RELATED: ‘The kids and I deserve better’: After resignation, Shawnee Mission teacher says lack-luster contract was final straw

NEA Shawnee Mission said Friday for those bargaining unit members who elected to accept the unilateral contract, it will remain in effect only for the 2019-2020 school year. Kansas Department of Labor ruled Friday this year’s contract decision was not prohibited.

“As a result of this ruling, the district must choose a new course of action, and it is the hope of NEA Shawnee Mission that the district would join with us and resume negotiations in order to reach an agreement. We believe that students, teachers, and our community stakeholders have an opportunity to repair and grow stronger with the district after today’s ruling,” the teacher’s union said in a release.    

“We’re encouraged by today’s ruling, but it really represents an opportunity for the district to show that it does respect the people who work most closely with our students every day. In doing so, the district can also demonstrate that it respects our students who learn best when their teachers have the time and tools necessary to teach,” NEA Shawnee Mission President, Linda Seick said.

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