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Inman: Session "one of darkest" for workers' rights

The 2011 legislative session is “one of the darkest” when it comes to erosion of workers’ rights, House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said Tuesday.

“We’re going to roll back right after right after right, benefit after benefit,” Inman said during debate on a bill to do away with trial de novo for fired teachers.

Trial de novo, a procedure unique to teachers, allows educators to appeal their terminations to district court.

Inman said trial de novo is almost never utilized, and there are other processes in place to get rid of bad teachers. He also predicted that the legislation, HB 1380, would lead to increased litigation.

Rep. Corey Holland, R-Marlow, author of the measure, acknowledged that trial de novo is rarely used. However, he said the bill is about removing a level of protection no other employees enjoy.

“The protections are still there,” said Holland, himself a teacher.

He said the measure provides for a plan of improvement for endangered educators to follow, and that career teachers would not be affected unless they violate certain specific requirements.

Holland noted that questions and debate against the bill mentioned only teachers.

“Where are the advocates for the children?” he asked.

The bill passed 69-31.

After the vote, Joel Robison, Oklahoma Education Association associate executive director for legislative and political organizing, responded.

“We don’t believe a teacher’s career should be ended by a vote of a political body,” Robison said. “School boards are political bodies that volunteer a few nights a month. They are subject to political agendas against individual teachers for personal, not educational, reasons.”

About Marie Price

Inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1998, award-winning journalist and attorney Marie Price has been covering the State Capitol and the law for three decades.

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