TOPEKA, KS (KCTV) – The Kansas Department of Labor has stated that the Shawnee Mission School District cannot impose a three-year unilateral contract upon its teachers.

Teachers had until today to sign the contract and a majority have.

However, KDOL said the district’s board must come back to the teacher’s union for the 2020-2021 school year.

The 2019-2020 contract is functional for those who accepted it, but the union is still hoping to continue talks about it.

The president of the teacher’s union also confirmed that the majority of teachers accepted the deal prior to this ruling, but that they felt somewhat forced to in order to “get the pay for the work they do.”

She believes negotiations for the future will start in about six weeks.

The school district released the following statement following the ruling: 

"Today the Kansas Department of Labor ruled that years two and three of the unilateral three-year contract were a prohibited practice. 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."

The KDOL’s ruling can be read below, with the most pertinent information being on page eight.

It says, in part: "[T]he Secretary finds Respondent's attempt to unilaterally impose the three-year contract was a deliberate attempt to remove the perceived impediment of subsequent annual contract negotiations. It was therefore an act done intentionally -- that is, willfully to: 1) Interfere with, restrain, or coerce professional employees of the exercise of rights granted . . . and 2) refuse to negotiate in good faith with representatives of recognized professional employees' organizations as required . . ."

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