Federal judge: Kentucky school districts must give up teacher sickout names

Kentucky school districts must comply with a subpoena from Gov. Matt Bevin’s administration requesting the names of teachers possibly involved in this year’s sickouts, a federal judge said Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves denied Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have blocked the subpoenas, issued last month by the state Labor Cabinet.

“The citizens of Kentucky pay the salaries of the school employees involved in the ‘sick outs,'” Reeves wrote. “Public education is not free. And if teachers violate the law, the Labor Cabinet should be able (to) investigate.”

Beshear called the ruling disappointing but said the “case is far from over.”

“I will continue to fight this governor’s attempts to punish and fine our teachers $1,000 per day,” he said. “Our teachers should be respected, not attacked.”

Previously: Names in hand, state officials will investigate sickout teachers

With the ruling, the Labor Cabinet can proceed with its investigation of the sickouts unencumbered by Beshear’s attempts to halt the inquiry.

The Labor Cabinet has the authority to investigate illegal work stoppages and to issue individual fines of up to $1,000 a day to those found to have been involved.

In his 15-page decision, Reeves asserted the cabinet’s authority to investigate the sickouts, which, he wrote, “likely” constitute a strike or illegal work stoppage.

“If the cabinet is unable to properly investigate violations of (state labor law), the citizens
of Kentucky will be harmed,” Reeves wrote. “Additionally, if the teachers participate in future ‘sick outs,’ and the Labor Cabinet is unable to investigate, other employees of the school systems, parents, students, and taxpayers will likely suffer harm.”

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