Gov. Bevin signs law giving JCPS superintendent more flexibility - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gov. Bevin signs law giving JCPS superintendent more flexibility in hiring principals

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JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens (WDRB News file photo) JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens (WDRB News file photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The superintendent of Jefferson County Public Schools will have more flexibility when it comes to hiring principals at all of its schools, according to a law signed by Gov. Matt Bevin on Wednesday.

Bevin signed House Bill 184 into law. The bill, which was supported by JCPS and Superintendent Donna Hargens, allows a "school district in a county with a consolidated local government" to use an "alternative principal selection process."

Jefferson County is the only consolidated local government in Kentucky, so the law only applies to JCPS.

Jonathan Lowe, director of strategy, said the law provides the district's superintendent to "make recommendations to a site-based council when he or she thinks a strong, experienced leader is needed to move a school forward."

Under current law, a school's Site-Based Decision-Making council (SBDM) has the authority to screen, interview and select a principal and the superintendent is required to sign off on that recommendation.

The new law, which takes effect July 1, states that the SBDM will still conduct the screening and interviewing, but when it comes time to recommend a principal at a school:

  • The superintendent can convene the SBDM and move into closed session as provided to confidentially recommend a candidate
  • The council shall have the option to interview the recommended candidate while in closed session
  • After discussion, at the conclusion of the closed session, the council shall decide, in a public meeting by majority vote of the membership of the council, whether to accept or reject the recommended principal candidate

The new law states that if the recommended candidate is selected, and the recommended candidate accepts the offer, "the name of the candidate shall be made public during the next meeting in open session."

"If the recommended candidate is not accepted by the school council...the candidate's name and the discussions of the closed session shall remain confidential and any documents used or generated during the closed meeting shall not be subject to an open records request."

"At the end of the day, the SBDM retains authority to select a principal, but this allows the superintendent to have a conversation with school-level leaders before they make a decisiont o hire," Lowe said. 

He added that the superintendent would not likely use this provision for the hiring of principals at all schools.

"However, there may school schools not identified as priority schools who  could use a strong, experienced leader," he said.

DOCUMENT | Read the full PDF of House Bill 184

The bill allows superintendents to help schools find the right leadership support for staff and students.

In a prepared statement, Hargens said the "number one priority for JCPS is making sure all of our students and staff have an optimal learning environment and receive the best education possible."

“The bill signed today by Gov. Matt Bevin helps us achieve that mission," she said. "I thank Rep. Jeff Donohue and Sen. Dan Seum for their sponsorship of this bill.  The bipartisan support in both chambers of the Kentucky legislature for this bill is appreciated.”

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JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens testifies before state committee in favor of education bills

Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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