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Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass seeking to leave position

Jason E. Glass head shot
Kentucky Department of Education
Jason E. Glass head shot

Kentucky’s top state education official is seeking employment elsewhere. Commissioner of Education Jason Glass has been named one of four finalists to become superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, a Maryland district of more than 111,000 students.

The news comes after Glass, a Kentucky native, endured months of attacks from Republican politicians who are opposed to the commissioner’s support for school policies that are inclusive of LGBTQ students.

“Serving as Commissioner in my home state of Kentucky has been an incredible professional honor and I am grateful to the Kentucky Board of Education for giving me this opportunity. Even in the hard times, I have loved
every minute of it,” Glass wrote in an emailed statement to LPM News. “At this point in my career, I am seeking a place where our family can put down roots and where I can have a long-term and meaningful impact on an
educational system.”

Republican lawmakers and politicians have made Kentucky an increasingly hostile environment for Glass over the course of his term, which began in 2020. His contract is up for renewal in September 2024.

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kelly Craft has been calling for Glass’ resignation and vowed to fire him on her first day in office — though the governor does not have the power to do so under current state law.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, also vying to be the GOP candidate in the governor’s race, has said Glass should “find another place to work.”

The commissioner first butted heads with conservative lawmakers in July 2021 over his opposition to a measure that sought to restrict classroom discussions about racism and gender.

During this year’s legislative session, Glass’ name was often invoked with ire by Republicans opposed to LGBTQ-inclusive school policies, which they refer to as part of a “woke” ideology. GOP lawmakers repeatedly cited testimony the commissioner gave during a House education committee meeting in February 2022.

Pressed by lawmakers in that hearing, Glass said he stood by a previous statement that teachers who refuse to use students’ correct pronouns should “find something else to do.”

By the end of the session, Republicans had changed the selection process for Glass’ position, giving the GOP-controlled Senate the power to confirm or deny his contract renewal in 2024.

At the time, Glass said he intended to finish his contract. He also weighed in strongly on lawmakers’ passage of Senate Bill 150, which restricts the ability of trans students to transition socially at school and bans gender-affirming medical care for trans minors.

“The Kentucky legislature is following a terrifying, but sadly well-trodden path. In the long run, history does not reflect well on such regimes. And in the short-run, we should all be concerned about who will be their
next target,” Glass wrote in an emailed statement at the time.

The commissioner also clashed with some Republicans over their desire to fund charter schools.

“I hate to think about Dr. Glass leaving Kentucky,” Kentucky Board of Education Chair Lu Young said in a statement. “He has been an outstanding, visionary leader who has begun really important work here. While we understand that he is pursuing other opportunities in the best interest of his family, losing him poses a serious challenge for our board.”

Kentucky Department of Education spokesperson Toni Konz Tatman said recent partisan attacks on Glass from gubernatorial candidates had “zero impact” on his decision to leave.

“It has been clear to Dr. Glass that the education priorities of the legislature are focused on culture war issues and dismantling the state’s public schools. Commissioner Glass does not share these values and hopes Kentucky can find a way to recommit to supporting its public schools and to creating meaningful learning experiences for all students,” Konz Tatman wrote in an email to LPM.

Baltimore County Public Schools is aiming to negotiate a contract with their new superintendent by July 1.