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February 27, 2013

Bill could end due process rights for school support personnel

NORMAN — State Sen. Earl Garrison says a bill approved in the Senate Education Committee will abolish due process rights for public school support staff.

Currently, those working in support positions are “at will” employees for their first year of employment. After that, they have limited due process rights. Senate Bill 230, which was approved Monday, would completely eliminate those rights.

Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, also opposed the bill.

“There are about 40,000 Oklahomans who work in our public schools in support positions. They’re teachers’ aides, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and custodians, and they’re the lowest paid employees in our schools,” said Garrison, D-Muskogee. “Under current law, they at least have the right to tell the school board that hired them their side of the story before a termination is made final. That small right would be taken from them if this bill becomes law.”

Garrison said the Oklahoma State School Board Association requested SB 230.

“There are only about 15 school employees in a given year that take advantage of this right, so it can’t be that it takes up too much time or resources,” Garrison said. “Whatever the rationale, the bottom line is hard-working Oklahomans who are a big part of our schools are having an important right taken away from them. Teachers, parents and school patrons should be very concerned about what’s happening.”

Sen. John Ford chairs the committee. Sen. David Holt authored the bill.

Voting for the bill in committee were senators Holt, Josh Brecheen, Jim Halligan, Clark Jolley, Wayne Shaw, Stanislawski and Ford. Voting against were senators Sparks, Earl Garrison, Susan Paddack and Ron Sharp.

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