For Immediate Release: Wednesday, January 22, 2020
Contact: Dr. Gary Houchens (270) 799-9081 or Jim Waters (270) 320-4376
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions, Kentucky’s free-market think tank, strongly supports today’s statement by former Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) members urging legislators to create a “modest but meaningful buffer” protecting our public education system “from the brutalities of partisan politics.”
This follows the former board members’ decision to join with the Bluegrass Institute in filing a lawsuit on Friday challenging their illegal and unconstitutional removal via an executive order issued by new Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear.
Today, Bluegrass Institute president and CEO Jim Waters commended board members for requesting legislative involvement in addition to launching their court case.
“Addressing both the policy and legal issues involved offers an opportunity to protect the board members’ due process rights and for the General Assembly to assert the importance of allowing KBE members to serve out their staggered terms, preventing the political ping-pong being played by Gov. Beshear,” Waters said.
Today’s statement by the former KBE members emphasizes their request is nonpartisan, pointing out that House legislative leaders also prevented former Gov. Matt Bevin from stacking the KBE with additional members, warning him such action would be retroactively reversed.
“Legislators did the right thing in denying Bevin the opportunity to politicize the KBE,” Waters said. “They can do the same by denying Beshear the authority to abruptly fire board members and purge state statutorily-protected independent boards and commissions without cause and due process.”
The Bluegrass Institute also supports the board members’ assertion that Beshear’s board awarded “outsized influence of the Kentucky Department of Education to the Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS)” following his executive order.
Kevin Brown, on loan from JCPS where he’s the general counsel, was installed as the interim commissioner. Interim communications director Toni Konz Tatman is also a regular JCPS communications director.
Ousted board members admonished in their statement that this creates a conflict of interest.
Since JCPS is essentially already on probation “with numerous agreed-upon improvement steps to be completed by the district no later than this October,” placing employees from the school district in key statewide positions of authority “puts JCPS executives in charge of their own probation and evaluation of progress against goals,” they said.
For more information, please contact Dr. Gary Houchens at (270) 799-9081 or Jim Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org, 859.444.5630 ext. 102 (office) or 270.320.4376 (cell).