Teachers in the Deerfield school district in western Kansas soon will vote on whether to part ways with the Kansas National Education Association.
Officials with the Kansas Department of Labor ruled this week in favor of the newly formed Deerfield Educators and ordered a secret-ballot election to take place no later than May 14.
At issue is whether the state’s largest teachers union should remain the exclusive bargaining representative for teachers in Deerfield, a district of about 250 students just west of Garden City.
Joel McClure, a social studies teacher at Deerfield High School and a former union member, says he and many of his colleagues are frustrated by a union that he says doesn’t reflect their political views or their thoughts on education policy and process. Of the 27 certified teachers in Deerfield, five are members of the Deerfield Teachers Association, an affiliate of the KNEA, he said.
Union officials had objected to the petition, saying McClure did not file it by a Dec. 1 deadline.
The ruling by Justin McFarland, deputy general counsel for the Kansas Department of Labor, says the petition was filed Nov. 27. It was signed by 15 of the district’s 27 teachers – more than the 30 percent required for a vote – the ruling says.
McClure resigned his teaching position earlier this month and plans to study for the priesthood in Denver. He decided to keep the petition moving forward because “this has always been about the teachers who want to see this change for the better,” McClure said in an e-mail.