State Representative Scott Cepicky Joins The Dan Mandis Show to Discuss Abuse Suffered by Teachers as Districts Fail to Abide by Teachers Discipline Act

Live from Nashville, Tennessee, Tuesday morning on The Dan Mandis Show – weekdays on Supertalk 99.7 WTN – live weekdays 5 a.m. to 9 a.m.– host Mandis welcomed State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Spring Hill) to the show to comment upon the unchecked abuse of public school teachers, the failure of school districts to enact the state law Teachers Discipline Act, and BEP funding legislation.

Mandis: I do want to welcome onto Nashville’s morning news State Representative Scott Cepicky. Scott, always appreciate having you on the program. And you and I have spoken in the past about a number of different things.

One of the stories that I reached out to you about was this crazy story, although not really surprising, about these teachers that came to you. And you were one of a handful of lawmakers that had this conversation with teachers who were saying that they were actually being – what’s the right word? Accosted?

Cepicky: Abused.

Mandis: Okay, abused while they were at school trying to teach these kids. And the schools in the districts really weren’t doing anything to help these teachers. And they’re to their wit’s end with this abuse.

And so, Scott, they came to Tennessee lawmakers and you were one of them. Tell me a little bit about what you discovered that these teachers are going through at the hands of these kids.

Cepicky: Dan, I appreciate being on today, and you’re absolutely right. This has been going on for a while in our Tennessee schools. A year ago, we passed the Teachers Discipline Act, which gave the ability of a teacher to gain control of the classroom from repetitively disruptive students and remove them permanently from the classroom.

That bill went into effect on January 1st. And right around the second week of January, as legislators, we started to get phone calls from teachers saying, hey, I haven’t heard anything about this Teacher’s Discipline Act from my locals. What’s going on?

And so we started to ask questions about it and found out that there were a lot of districts out there that weren’t in compliance with state law and rolling out this program to give the teachers this ability. And then you saw about two weeks ago how these teachers came on the news and presented their issues of their abuse.

And the thing that was very disturbing to us as legislators was they could only show their hands, Dan. They had to remove their rings, their watches, anything that could identify them for fear of reprisal from their districts.

Mandis: That is amazing to me and incredibly sad. Scott, let me ask you, what is the end result of that? Is there any legislation? Is there anything you guys can do to enforce these teachers being able to remove these students? That’s number one. And number two, how do you protect these teachers?

Cepicky: The first question is, we asked in our education committee, the Department of Education, to send out a reminder email to all of the superintendents and school boards across the state that they are supposed to have processes in place right now to enact state law in regards to the Teachers Discipline Act.

And hopefully that will be taken care of very quickly. Also, Representative Reedy has a bill on the Teacher’s Bill of Rights extending more rights to teachers in regards to abuse in the classroom and things that they can do to protect themselves.

And so we are very cognizant of the classroom atmosphere we have across Tennessee. And as legislators, we want to make sure that our teachers have a classroom that one, they can control and two, have discipline in it, and number three, will be backed up by their local school boards and principals.

Mandis: I’m just going to tell you, when I did this story, I was so disheartened by the fact that the schools and the school districts were not standing by and standing up for their teachers. Did the teachers give a reason why they felt like their concerns and their bruises were being ignored by the school districts?

Cepicky: I think a lot of it has to do with the fear of a lawsuit by a parent and also at the state level these are things we need to correct, that we sometimes have negative penalties for districts who enact discipline on students and or possibly send them out for in-school or out-of-school suspension or alternative school.

And that’s one of the things we do up here, Dan, is there are so many different prongs and effects here that have to do with state law in regards to education. It’s not just one silver bullet of a bill you can pass that fixes everything.

There are numerous things you have to fix at all times to maintain the ability for teachers to do their job. And their job is to stand in front of our students and teach them the basics and fundamentals of education.

Mandis: Yes. And it’s up to the parents to teach them the basics of human dignity and how to treat other people. And sadly, that’s not necessarily happening in a lot of households across Tennessee. Governor Lee and his education bill: So we all know what’s in it. We’ve been talking about it here on WTN for quite some time. I have interviewed the governor a couple of times on this.

I know that there was some consternation, some frustration among some folks in the state legislature because it got to you folks so late, because a lot of people wanted to go out and they wanted to campaign and the rest of it. Where are you folks at in debating or discussing the governor’s education bill?

Cepicky: That right now, Dan, we are trying to wrap up as many of our committees in education as we can so that as a committee we can focus on this major piece of legislation. This is something we don’t do every year, Dan.

This is something we haven’t done in 30 years. And so we just received this legislation. I received it, I think, on Thursday or Friday. I spent the whole weekend going through this as one of the chairmen of education, trying to figure out exactly what this does in balance with the current BEP funding we have.

How is it different? How is it the same? What’s it going to do? And right now we’re working on this. I’ve got questions flooding in to me from all over the state, from teachers, from principals, from administrators, and school boards.

There’s a lot of unknowns in this bill right now. And what we’re trying to work through, Dan is trying to get the answers on what this is actually going to do, and how is it going to move the needle of education in Tennessee.

It’s not just about the money then, it’s about how are we going to get more kids educated. And I’m telling you right now, I’ll go on the record. I’m in no hurry to pass this bill.

I want to look at it. I want to get all my questions answered so I can go and speak intelligently about this new funding formula. And we have to get it right, even if that takes a year to get it right.

Listen to the full interview here:

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