The goings-on in Breathitt County’s school system sound like something out of a horribly unbelievable soap opera. Except, this story is no fabrication.
Charges were also filed in a separate action in 2011 against the superintendent and others for failing to report a sexual misconduct incident between a teacher and a student in the system.
In yet another separate action, a recent audit of the district’s finances raised a host of issues regarding fiscal impropriety. Among other things, the district cut 10 days from the school year and improperly paid staff for those days. Following an audit by the Kentucky Auditor of Public Accounts, the state withdrew its share of funding, $191,000, for those 10 days. The superintendent improperly paid teachers over a half a million dollars for those days when school was not held.
Problems with leadership in this district stretch back farther, to at least 2010. That’s when the Courier-Journal reported in “Indicted Breathitt school official removed by state” (subscription) that a member of the Breathitt County Board of Education was removed from his position by the Kentucky Board of Education for charges including forgery, unauthorized use of a state motor vehicle, and official misconduct.
Like I said, it’s like a soap opera.
Now – finally – it looks like the chickens are coming home to roost. In its December meeting, the Kentucky Board of Education is scheduled to vote to take over this seriously struggling school district.
A management audit (to access, click here, then scroll to item XXIX and then click on the link “Breathitt County Report Final”) recently completed by the Kentucky Department of Education certainly paints a very sad picture of a school system without leadership.
If the state takes over Breathitt County, it will be the first state takeover since the mid-1990s. To be honest, the results for students back then when the state took charge of Floyd County were nothing to write home about, so it will be interesting to see if the Kentucky’s educators learned from that experience.
Still, given the outright corruption that has infected this school system’s leadership, almost any change has to be an improvement for the students.
It’s too bad we don’t allow charter school districts in Kentucky. That might be a superb option to turn around this education mess.