UPDATE: Kentucky Gov. Bevin apologizes for child sex abuse remarks

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WSAZ/AP) -- UPDATE 4/15/18 @ 2:53 p.m.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin has apologized for saying that children were sexually abused because they were left home alone while teachers rallied to ask lawmakers to override his vetoes.

WSAZ/Chad Hedrick

Bevin issued his apology in a nearly four-minute video posted online Sunday.

On Friday, Bevin's explosive comments were part of his statement criticizing teachers for leaving work to protest at the Capitol. More than 30 school districts closed Friday. Bevin's comments came shortly after Republican lawmakers voted to override his vetoes of an operating budget that included increased spending for public education with the help of an accompanying tax increase.

Bevin apologized several times in Sunday's video. He says "it is not my intent to hurt anybody in this process, but to help us all move forward together."



UPDATE 4/14/18 @ 9:50 p.m.
Teachers across Kentucky are fuming after they heard Gov. Matt Bevin say he guaranteed a child was sexually abused because they were left home alone after teachers forced the closure of several schools across the state so they could rally at the Capitol Friday.

“I was blown away,” said Boyd County teacher Missy Conley. “In teachers’ eyes, the worst things you could say to them, that’s what he said.”

“I’m offended by the idea that people so cavalierly, and so flippantly, disregarded what’s best for children,” Bevin said to reporters. “I guarantee you somewhere today, a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody to watch them.”

Teachers say the statements crossed the line, as several students look at their teachers as safety nets who they can go to when they need help.

“It was completely uncalled for,” said Boyd County teacher Krista All. “We are the safety net for our children un schools, and whether he wants to believe that or not, it’s a simple fact.”

All says teachers see cases of abuse all the time, and are often the ones who say something to protect the children. “It’s frustrating that he would use that as a platform,” said All. “I think it’s very harmful, and painful for the victims to have to hear that.”

Teachers have rallied several times over the last few weeks at the Capitol for different causes. First it was against pension reform, then for proposed cuts to public education. Friday’s rally was to encourage lawmakers to override Bevin’s veto of the budget bill that had some beneficial measures to public schools.

“If he’s saying we’re that important, then why don’t you fund us?” asked Boyd County teacher Heather Thomas. Thomas teaches at a school that teaches students coming from troubled homes and called Bevin’s statement “appalling.”

“When he makes comments like he did yesterday, that just adds fuel to the fire,” said Conley. “It just keeps us more motivated.”

State officials have also spoken out condemning Bevin’s comments.

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear released this statement:
“Gov. Bevin’s comments last night saying teachers rallying in Frankfort led to children being sexually abused are morally reprehensible and must be condemned by all Kentuckians. The Office of the Attorney General fights every day to protect our children and has arrested a record number of predators and human traffickers. Our prevention training efforts have reached more than 3,000 Kentuckians. If we want to create a world without child abuse, we cannot tolerate the governor’s comments.”
The Kentucky House Democratic Caucus filed a resolution Saturday , on the final day of the 2018 Legislative Session that condemned Bevin’s remarks.

In a statement House Democrats said:

“What Governor Bevin said about teachers following their peaceful rally yesterday was reprehensible, and we are proud to join with the many others who have condemned his petty, spiteful remarks. Our educators and public workers have every right to make their voice heard, and we are deeply proud of the way they have carried themselves throughout this legislative session. Governor Bevin is on the wrong side of history, and as his latest outburst shows, he’s also on the wrong side of simple decency.”

Teachers add they hope that Bevin apologizes for his words, and that Kentuckians should demand he apologize.



UPDATE 4/13/18 @ 8:45 p.m.
Kentucky's Republican governor says he guarantees a child was sexually abused because they were left home alone after teachers forced the closure of more than 30 school districts to come to have a rally at the state Capitol.

Bevin's comments came shortly after Republican lawmakers voted to override his vetoes of a two-year operating budget that included increased spending for public education with the help of an accompanying $480 million tax increase. Thousands of teachers gathered at the Capitol to ask lawmakers to override the vetoes. More than 30 school districts said they were forced to close because they didn't have enough teachers.

Bevin told reporters outside the Capitol on Friday night it was "offensive" that so many districts were closed. A spokesman for the Kentucky Education Association declined to comment.



UPDATE 4/13/18 @ 10:22 a.m.
Thousands of teachers are rallying outside the Kentucky Capitol to call for more state funding for education.

The demonstration Friday morning had a festival-like atmosphere as teachers sat in lawn chairs or sprawled out on blankets. They chanted "vote them out" and "we love our children."

The teachers are upset with Republican Gov. Matt Bevin's vetoes of budget and revenue bills. The GOP-controlled Legislature is expected to decide Friday whether they will accept or reject the vetoes and the votes are expected to be close.

Stephanie Ikanovic was one of the teachers at the rally. She has been teaching for more than two decades. She says she would rather be in the classroom Friday morning but she is so worried about education spending that she decided to miss work to make sure her voice was heard.

UPDATED: 4/2/18 @ 4:50 p.m.
Thousands of teachers and public employees from across Kentucky rallied at the State Capitol in Frankfort on Monday.

The Kentucky Education Association called for the rally in protest of Senate Bill 151, which was originally filed as a wastewater services bill, but was changed into a pension reform bill with little notice Thursday and passed both House and Senate.

'It's sad that we have to be here on our spring break fighting for what is ours, but at the same time, we're here and we're strong in force,' said Paula Pleasant, a teacher in Greenup County.

Educators came from every corner of the state. There were so many teachers, in fact, shuttle buses kept making rounds.

Among those teachers was Janie Potter, whose story we told you about on Friday. She is delaying her retirement and is pushing her daughter to a new career field.

'I am excited and I am ecstatic that we have this big of a turnout,' said Potter. 'I hope they will listen to us and realize public education is important. Our kids are important. This is not done until April 14. The session doesn't end until April 14.'

The rally in front of the Kentucky Education Association filled the block and then some before a march along Capitol Avenue. For KEA leaders, joined by a number of other union representatives, the message is not to give up.

'They are deciding the budget in a revenue bill, so that's why we're showing up today,' said Stephanie Winkler, KEA President. 'We want them to know how important it is to fund our vital public services including education.'

So far, Governor Matt Bevin has not signed Senate Bill 151. As for a teacher strike or work stoppage, officials say anything is possible.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com and WSAZ Mobile for the latest details.



ORIGINAL STORY: 4/2/18 @ 9:50 a.m.
Thousands of teachers and public employees from across Kentucky are rallying at the State Capitol in Frankfort and buses are still rolling in.

The Kentucky Education Association called for the rally in protest of Senate Bill 151, which was originally filed as a wastewater services bill, but was changed into a pension reform bill with little notice Thursday and passed both House and Senate.

Rally leaders addressed the crowd calling for change. ‘Today, we’re going to make our voice heard. Today we are going to stand here and let them know that we are in Frankfort and we will be watching them. Today, we demand a government of transparency, equity and respect.’

Vice President of the National Education Association Becky Pringle said, ‘Three million of your closest friends, your brothers and sisters are standing here with you. I bring you greetings from the National Education Association!’

‘Of all the civil rights for which this world has fought and died for, the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental,’ said Pringle. ‘The freedom to learn has been bought by bitter sacrifice.’

‘You are in the front of the lines to ensure your students have the kind of education that inspires their imaginations and unleashes their brilliance. So don’t be shy about your business. Don’t be afraid of your power. My question this morning to you is, ‘What are you prepared to do?’’

‘Kentucky, what are you prepared to do to ensure every single student in the state has access and opportunity? What are you prepared to do to send a message that we will remember in November? What are you prepared to do?’

‘This legislature should be focused on ensuring our students in Kentucky’s public schools are getting the support they need and deserve. Not rushing to pass bills using a shady process and not insulting them and working from day one to take away their voice and their rights. But Kentucky, will we be silent? We will heed the call. There’s no turning back. We will win because ours is a movement of the mind and the heart.’

‘We will lift up our voices and we will not give in. We will move forward together and not one step back.
We cannot turn back because our students are depending on us to be worthy of them.’

On Friday, KEA President Stephanie Winkler called for the rally, calling SB 151 a blatant disrespect for the law and for democracy.

Winkler says the fight is not over, as public employees will be watching what the state budget bill does to public education and public service.

The rally began at 9 a.m. Lawmakers are expected back in Frankfort today to work on the budget bill for the next two fiscal years.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com and WSAZ Mobile for the latest details.



 
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