The Kentucky Labor Cabinet will not withdraw its subpoenas to 10 school districts as requested by Attorney General Andy Beshear, Secretary David Dickerson said in a letter to Beshear on Wednesday.
Dickerson’s refusal will most likely spark a legal tussle over the cabinet’s investigation into “sick outs” that closed several school districts at least once during this year’s legislative session.
Beshear, a Democrat vying for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, said he would file a lawsuit Monday if the cabinet’s 10 subpoenas aren’t rescinded by the end of the week.
But Dickerson contends that he sees “no valid reason” to ignore possible legal violations as teachers in a number of districts staged sick outs to protest bills they said would hurt public education.
Dickerson said he referred the matter to his inspector general’s office, which is investigating whether teachers who flooded their school districts with sick leave requests participated in an illegal work stoppage. The cabinet can issue penalties up to $1,000.
The secretary said Beshear “should let this statutorily authorized investigation proceed as the law provides.”
He said working parents had to “scramble for expensive childcare on short notice” and were otherwise inconvenienced by the closures.
Beshear has said teachers are exercising their First Amendment rights in the sick outs, but Dickerson said the real issue is whether teachers “can lie about being sick and force a shutdown of the entire school system so they can get paid while coming to Frankfort to lobby.”