Salina teacher gets community support to stay in classroom

SALINA, Kan. (KWCH) - A Salina high school teacher will be allowed to stay in the classroom.

Board members were deciding Tuesday whether to renew the teacher's contract for next year. The board said she violated the agreement.

Dozens of supporters who packed the school board office said they think the district was trying to punish the teacher for trying to do the right thing.

"I think maybe this was a point where the school board said that 'we're going to draw the line,' and be made an example of," said Jennifer Larson, a retired educator.

Larson said the teacher asked the district not to pay her for two out of five days she requested off. The district said it denied her request due to its three day limit on personal time off.

"If she had chosen another route by being dishonest, this wouldn't have been a question, but she chose to be honest," Larson said.

Supporters sent letters, and showed up in large numbers, trying to persuade the board not to let the teacher go.

"There's a lot of good teachers out there and they just want to do a job, and this teacher is one of them," said one supporter.

Supporters of the teacher felt like the vote would show them how the district feels about its employees.

"I was nervous, I was concerned, because I have such love and such respect for Karen, and I had no idea how this was going to go," Larson said.

The board voted five to two, to keep the teacher in the classroom.

"I was happy to see great support that came out tonight," said one supporter. "I got to have her for two years being a teacher's aid, and I just got lucky watching her work."

"I'm gratified that the board saw what was happening, and voted reasonably, and intelligently because to lose Karen Abker would be a huge loss for our school district," Larson said.

Supporters of the teacher said they will ask the board to consider revising the district leave policy. They say it is out of date.