Kentucky Board of Education

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A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by several former members of the Kentucky Board of Education who claimed Gov. Andy Beshear violated their constitutional rights when he ousted them shortly after taking office in December. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove dismissed the case Wednesday, ruling that, “the Court finds the Governor’s actions are not contrary to federal law.”

The former board members and their attorney, Steve Megerle, could not be reached for comment by our deadline. But the decision could be appealed to a higher court.

Liz Schlemmer

The Kentucky state senate voted Wednesday night to confirm all but one of Gov. Andy Beshear’s 11 appointees for the Kentucky State Board of Education.

Senators voted not to confirm board chair David Karem, a former state lawmaker, and main driver behind the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990. Under state law, appointees who are not confirmed cannot serve again for two years, so Beshear will have to find a replacement.

The state board of education has been a stage for political battles in recent years. When Beshear took office in December 2019, one of his first acts as governor was to dissolve the board of education, which was filled with members appointed by his predecessor, former Gov. Matt Bevin. He then reformed the board with all new members, who are still currently serving. The Senate had until Wednesday, the last day of session, to confirm Beshear’s appointments.

Kentucky LRC

bill filed by Kentucky Senate president Robert Stivers (R-Manchester) would take away the power of the governor to reorganize the state board of education. The bill would likely prevent future wholesale ousters of board members, like the one carried out by Gov. Andy Beshear.

When Beshear took office, one of his first acts as governor was to dissolve the Kentucky Board of Education. The board’s members were all appointed by Beshear’s political rival, former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin. Beshear replaced the Bevin-appointees with his own, and now the dueling boards are duking it out in the courts.

Jess Clark

A federal district judge heard arguments Tuesday in a case brought by several Kentucky Board of Education members ousted by Gov. Andy Beshear.

The members, all appointed by former Gov. Matt Bevin, are asking the court to stop the Beshear-appointed board from meeting.

The seven former board members say Beshear’s decision to remove them shortly after his election was illegal. They asked a state court for a preliminary injunction to prevent the new board from meeting in December, but the state court denied that request. Now, the Bevin appointees are suing in federal court.

 


Public Domain

Most of the former board of education members ousted by Gov. Andy Beshear are continuing their lawsuit against the new administration, and moving the challenge to a federal court.

Beshear replaced the entire board of education on December 10, the day he was inaugurated as Kentucky’s 61st governor, fulfilling a campaign promise.

The same day, the board appointed by former Gov. Matt Bevin filed a lawsuit against Beshear, arguing that he didn’t have the authority to fire them before the completion of their appointed terms.

education.ky.gov

The Kentucky Board of Education has forced out Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis as part of an overhaul in the administration of newly inaugurated Gov. Andy Beshear.

The move comes two days after Beshear totally replaced the board, fulfilling a campaign promise that rallied educators who disagreed with policies of previous members appointed by former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Board chair David Karem announced that Lewis had submitted a letter of resignation during a special meeting of the board of education.

“This is really a return to what the Kentucky Education Reform Act intended. The appointment of a quality board of members to this board and a national search for a commissioner of education,” Karem said.


Governor Andy Beshear fulfilled one campaign pledge on the first day of his administration on Tuesday.  He replaced every member of the Kentucky Board of Education through an executive order.  On Thursday, he's likely to make good on a second promise to fire Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis.

The newly minted Board of Education will meet in Frankfort to discuss “possible action to terminate" Lewis’ contract.  The agenda also says the board may go into executive session to consider appointing an interim leader and conducting a national search for a new education commissioner. 

Becca Schimmel

If Gov.-elect Andy Beshear fulfills his campaign promise to replace the members of the Kentucky Board of Education, he would be the first governor to do so since lawmakers tried to insulate the board from political pressures in 1990 as part of the Kentucky Education Reform Act.

Beshear, a Democrat, has said he would overhaul the Board of Education by executive order “on day one,” a rallying point for many educators who disagreed with priorities of the current 11-member board appointed by Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

Beshear has also said he hopes that the board would replace its only employee, Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who was hired shortly after Bevin’s appointees took control of the board in 2018.

Public Domain

The Kentucky Supreme Court heard another lawsuit between Attorney General Andy Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin on Friday.

Once again, the legal challenge was over to what extent the governor has authority to reorganize state boards while the legislature isn’t in session — this time it had to do with Bevin’s overhaul of several state education boards in the summer of 2017.

Beshear argued that the governor overstepped his authority.

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The Kentucky Board of Education has approved new high school graduation requirements, mandating students demonstrate competency in basic math and reading, and complete benchmarks intended to show they are ready for work or college before they can graduate.

The legislature still has to sign off on the policy.

Most of the new requirements will go into effect for freshmen starting high school next fall and the full policy will take effect for subsequent classes.

The Kentucky Board of Education has signed off on new graduation requirements for high school students. 

Under the new standards, 10th grade students would have to pass foundation exams in reading and math in order to receive a diploma.  They could take the tests multiple times, but if they still can’t pass, they could appeal to their local superintendent.

Students would also have to meet benchmark test scores or prove career readiness by earning industry certification or completing an apprenticeship.

Despite some education groups, including the Kentucky Education Association, wanting the vote postponed, the Board of Education gave preliminary approval to the new requirements during a meeting in Frankfort on Wednesday. 

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Next month the Kentucky Board of Education will consider implementing new high school graduation requirements geared towards making sure students are ready to enter the workforce or pursue higher education.

The proposed requirements include mandating that students pass “foundation” reading and math exams before they can receive their diploma and meeting benchmark test scores or participating in vocational programs to prove they’re ready to find employment or continue academic pursuits.

Kyeland Jackson

In another shakeup of Kentucky’s education leadership, the state board of education has elected charter schools advocate Hal Heiner to be its chairman.

Heiner was appointed to the board by Gov. Matt Bevin in April.

“For me, this year marks 22 nearly continuous years of education board service,” Heiner said Thursday morning. “From a P-12 board to a board serving children with learning differences to a post-secondary board, it’s been a labor of love.”

Heiner is an engineer and businessman and has led several organizations that push for opening charter schools in Kentucky and reforming the state’s education system.

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Decades before the Kentucky Board of Education forced out former Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt two years before his contract was up, the legislature passed a massive overhaul of the state education system, including measures to try and shield Kentucky’s top education official from political influence.

Before the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990, Kentucky’s top education official was called the superintendent of public instruction, a position that was elected through a statewide vote every four years — the same years that the governor and other statewide officials were elected.


Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear said he’ll wait to decide whether to file a lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin over a recent reorganization of several state education boards.

The governor’s office sent Beshear a letter late Wednesday saying Bevin planned to alter the executive order, which tweaked or replaced panels like the Board of Education and Council on Postsecondary Education.

Beshear argues the reorganizations go against the state’s laws and constitution, and said he would take legal action if Bevin didn’t alter the executive order by Friday.

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