Education commissioner’s job in jeopardy; new board sets meeting


FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis could learn if he is out of a job soon as the newly reconstituted Kentucky Board of Education has called a special meeting for Thursday.

Gov. Andy Beshear had promised during his campaign that he would sign an executive order replacing the old board and did just that on his Inauguration Day.

“This morning, I reorganized the State Board of Education and appointed new members who support public education,” he told the crowd Tuesday. “These members were not chosen on the basis of any partisan affiliation but based on their commitment to make our schools better, to put our children first.”

Beshear has also said Lewis was promoted from within the Department of Education and that a nationwide search should be made to hire an education commissioner.

Shortly after Beshear’s speech, 10 of the 11 ousted members announced they were filing suit at Franklin Circuit Court, seeking to halt the executive order. The only one of the existing members who did not join the suit is Amanda Stamper, who had served as communications director for former Gov. Matt Bevin.

Franklin Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate said Wednesday afternoon that the newly appointed state education board can meet, denying  a temporary restraining order preventing the Kentucky Board of Education's new members from meeting.

Bart Greenwald, the attorney for the ousted board members, is expected to appeal the ruling.

New temporary board chairman David Karem told the Herald Leader that  Beshear asked him to help by becoming the new state board chair, but did not say, “Your instructions are to get rid of someone.”

Karem, a Democrat as is Beshear, was a state lawmaker for 33 years, and served on the Kentucky Board of Education for seven years.

On the agenda, following the introduction and swearing in of new members, is an executive session “for discussion which might lead to the dismissal of the Commissioner of Education.”

Once they return from executive session, the remaining agenda items are:

--Discussion and possible action to terminate contract of Commissioner of Education

--Discussion and possible action to appoint an Acting Commissioner of Education

--Discussion and possible action to appoint an Interim Commissioner of Education

--Discussion and possible action to authorize the Kentucky Department of Education to issue solicitation for services to conduct a national search for Commissioner of Education

--Discussion and possible action to set next special meeting date(s) for board member orientation and Commissioner selection process.


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