For Immediate Release: Friday, April 3, 2020
(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – The Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions in partnership with former Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) members reiterated its call today for a legislative resolution to Gov. Beshear’s illegal and unconstitutional executive order ousting previous members without cause or due process and the administration’s rejection of a compromise solution ensuring previous appointees could finish their terms while allowing him to legally appoint the majority of members.
During his daily COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, Beshear said he’ll simply appoint new members to the board if the state Senate fails to confirm his current appointees before adjourning on April 15.
The recent compromise solution “would have avoided the governor’s very dangerous legal precedent of politicizing the Department of Education,” said former board member Rich Gimmel in a statement following the governor’s comments on Thursday.
Steven J. Megerle, an attorney and board member of the Bluegrass Institute, a free-market think tank which is providing legal and financial support for the partnership, says the administration rejected “out of hand” the compromise solution offered on March 24.
“They clearly care more about pursuing this legal case than doing what’s best for the 650,000 students served by Kentucky’s public education system overseen by this board,” Megerle said. “The governor illegally fired these board members without cause and before their terms expired – both of which violate Kentucky law – and without affording them any semblance of due process.”
Former board members continue to call for legislative action to provide a buffer between the board and shifting political winds, which is particularly important considering the board’s current efforts to hire a new education commissioner.
“We feel it will be difficult to attract best-of-class candidates for the position of Commissioner – who will be in it for the long haul – if they know their job will be subject to the whims of an incoming governor,” Gimmel wrote. “This is a violation of both the spirit and letter of the Kentucky Education Reform Act, which specifically sought to de-politicize the Department of Education, providing for a gradual turnover of board members.”
Former board members also seek legislative action to provide a buffer between future board appointments and political considerations.
Senate Bill 10, which passed the upper chamber’s education committee on an 8-3 vote in early March, would prohibit governors from reorganizing the board and requires KBE appointments to reflect equal gender representation as well as reflect Kentucky’s political makeup.
The bill was returned to committee after spending 10 days on the Senate’s Orders of the Day but never receiving a vote by the full body.
For more information, please contact Steven J. Megerle at (859) 992-5403 or firstname.lastname@example.org.