Leavenworth USD 453 is a public school district, and as an employer we must balance student safety with the public’s right to know and employees’ rights to fairness and due process.
USD 453 recognizes that it can be frustrating for individuals and community members when they read, hear, or are told that the district “can not discuss personnel matters.” When personnel matters are not elaborated on or fully communicated, it can result in speculation or unsubstantiated gossip about why important information is being hidden. At times, it would seem easier if all facts related to a staffing change could be shared and released.
While student safety remains our top priority, and we know that transparency is important to our families and patrons, there are three general reasons why employee-related information cannot be shared on specific occasions.
- Fairness - As an employer, Leavenworth USD 453 has a responsibility to treat all staff members fairly. This is also true when there are allegations of wrong-doing, and individual claims are being reviewed and investigated in a fair and professional manner. Those rights are spelled out in Kansas law, and also supported by Board policy. Staff members deserve dignity, respect, and to not have details of their record of employment discussed by their employer in a public forum, or shared openly with others.
- The Need for a Thorough Review - Employment situations, including those that involve discipline or allegations of wrong-doing, are rarely straight forward. All complaints and/or allegations of inappropriate behavior require a thorough review to ensure a fair outcome not only for students/families, but also for the district and implicated staff. The timing of an investigation might not always satisfy the information needs of interested individuals. However, a premature or partial release of information could violate due process of an individual and/or jeopardize the outcome of a thorough review. Leavenworth USD 453 remains committed to conducting a fair and professional review of all complaints and concerns.
- Legal Matters - Leavenworth USD 453 employees are protected by specific rights defined by state law. In addition, the district could be faced with legal action as the result of disciplinary action, including suspension and/or termination. If USD 453 were to violate legal protections, the district could be subject to litigation with the potential for financial impact on taxpayers, as well as our schools. Legal matters that are deemed to be criminal in scope are immediately referred to local law enforcement. The school district is committed to protecting resources that are best directed towards achieving desired student outcomes, while also ensuring that employment rights are respected.
Leavenworth USD 453 is committed to preparing students for success in every classroom, every day. At the same time, we believe that our staff members should be treated respectfully and by the rules. While no two situations are the same, there will be times when Leavenworth USD 453 and/or the Board of Education will be unable to provide information related to matters affecting students and/or staff members.
If you have questions or concerns about a member of our school community, you are strongly encouraged to visit the district’s Human Resources department (913-684-1400).