Protesters gather in the gallery as the Kentucky House begins a special session in December. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

Jefferson County Public Schools will be closed Thursday due to a teacher sickout — the second in a row and the third in the past week.

JCPS officials called off school Wednesday night after over 1,000 teachers called in sick. Shortly before the decision, Oldham County and Bullitt County announced they would also be closed due to significant teacher absences.

Kentucky’s largest district also canceled class Wednesday after a divergent group of JCPS teachers pushed for a sickout. Unlike in past demonstrations, JCPS found themselves to be the only district using a sickout to protest legislation.

Despite two groups of educators now calling the sickout shots — JCPS Leads and the statewide KY 120 United — neither seem to be fully behind Thursday’s closures. When asked, JCPS Leads leader Tim Hill said a sickout would be up to educators.

“There isn’t a sick-out happening,” Hill said early Wednesday night. “This is a mobilization. We are mobilizing our colleagues, parents, students, and community partners to show support wherever they are or may end up, such as Frankfort.”

Mass call-offs are becoming increasingly focused on the larger image instead of specific bills. Educators, both in JCPS and in Kentucky, feel ignored and attacked by lawmakers who pass what they perceive as anti-public education legislation.

Wednesday’s solo JCPS sickout focused on both a district-specific bill — Senate Bill 250, which would give the JCPS superintendent more authority — and larger fears of public education funding taking a hit should scholarship tax credit legislation pass.

Last Thursday, a bill trying to change the makeup of the teachers’ pension board caused eight districts to close. That bill, House Bill 525, passed out of committee but has been stalled in the House since. It may be voted on Thursday when the House reconvenes.

This post may be updated. 

Olivia Krauth
Krauth reports on education in Louisville, including JCPS, the University of Louisville and state policy.Before joining Insider Louisville, she covered technology and business as a reporter at TechRepublic. She also spent time on the data team at the Austin American-Statesman in Texas as a Dow Jones intern.Krauth graduated from UofL, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism with a minor in Russian studies.Email Olivia at [email protected]