Beshear appoints all new Kentucky Board of Education; old board promises lawsuit
FRANKFORT – Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Tuesday in his first day in office to create a new state school board.
He said in the order that the current board has conflicting relationships, a lack of experience in education and did not conduct a nationwide search in 2018 when it hired current commissioner Wayne Lewis.
Beshear named David Karem, a former lawmaker and state board member, as temporary chairman of the new board.
He also appointed Holly Bloodworth, Patrice McCray, Mike Bowling, Sharon Robinson, Lu Young, Jo Ann Adams, Cody Pauley Johnson, former UK President Lee Todd, Claire Batt and Alvis Johnson to the new board.
He appointed teacher Allison Slone as a non-voting member.
Shortly after the announcement, 10 of the old board members said they will file a lawsuit Tuesday against Beshear’s actions, challenging his attempt to remove them before their terms expire.
“We believe the governor’s executive order violates Kentucky law,” they said.
Beshear has said for weeks he would act quickly when he took office to dismiss Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis and the state Board of Education.
He made the announcement about the reorganized board in his inaugural speech Tuesday afternoon.
“This morning, I reorganized the state board of education and appointed new members who support public education,” said Beshear to loud applause.
He added, “These members were not chosen based on any partisan affiliation, but based on their communities to make our schools better, to put our children first.”
Elected to office with strong support of many teachers who are not fond of Lewis, an advocate of charter schools, and the state education board members appointed by Bevin, Beshear had said previously that his executive order would create an entirely new education board.
It, in turn, would dismiss Lewis and begin a national search for a new education commissioner, Beshear has said.
Lewis, who did not immediately respond Tuesday, and several board members, including the governor, have voiced support for charter schools that would receive state funding but operate independently of the established state school system. Some educators fear they would take money from public schools.
Lewis has said that Beshear has made political attacks and smear campaigns about his background, integrity and commitment to education. He said he would not immediately resign after Beshear becomes governor.
Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said it’s ironic that Beshear filed a lawsuit against Bevin’s reorganization of a state board and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Bevin.
He said he expects the legislature will discuss over the next two years how state boards are organized.
By Jack Brammer and Valarie Honeycutt Spears