State Senate passes bill giving power to districts, principals over teachers


OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state Senate approved a bill Wednesday that would give districts and principals sole power to transfer and fire teachers.

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Kevin McCarty spoke with a teacher who opposes the bill and said it puts their jobs at risk.

“This is not an attack on the teachers’ unions, this is an attack on teachers,” said Franklin-Pierce Elementary School teacher Pam Kruse. “It takes away our due process rights. It takes away a fair and objective process for selecting staff, and it just takes away local decision making.”

In 2011, Tacoma teachers went on strike. The major issue was a move by the district to allow principals and the district more power to transfer teachers to other schools.

The strike ended only after teachers and the district struck a bargain that would establish a joint panel of district officials and teachers to negotiate those transfers.

Now with the passed bill, that would change.

Supporters, including the national organization Teacher’s United, said the bill will improve what goes on in the classroom by allowing districts and principals more authority to place the right person into the right job.

“I think that’s a distraction. This bill is designed to deal with what happens when teachers are displaced,” said Erin Gustafson of Teachers United. “And we feel that kind of choice, finding that right fit between a school and a teacher leads to student success.”

Even though the bill passed, opponents said they believe they have a chance of killing the measure in the state House.

The bill is currently undergoing hearings in the House of Representatives.