LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County School Board will decide Tuesday night whether to appeal a planned state takeover of the school district.

The deadline to appeal is Wednesday, and JCPS board member Linda Duncan said she would be “very surprised” if the board does not fight the decision by interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis to take control of JCPS.

The move could make JCPS the third school district under state control. Breathitt County Schools has been in state management since 2012, while KDE has controlled operations at Menifee County Schools since 2015. JCPS, which has more than 100,000 students, is by far the largest district placed under state management in Kentucky.

Duncan said she wants the district to make its case before the state board of education that JCPS is addressing the concerns contained in a state audit.

“And have our opportunity to dispute some of the things in the report that I found to be a little inaccurate and maybe get a chance to get some things clarified,” Duncan said.

Several other board members declined to be interviewed before the meeting but made their feelings known during a pro-JCPS rally last month.

“An attack on our locally elected school board is an attack on democracy itself,” Lisa Willner said.

“We can fight, but we may not win,” Chris Brady said. “But what I do know is that if we don't fight, we will never win.”

Even those who support the state takeover expect JCPS to put up a fight.

“We clearly expect them to appeal the decision of the commissioner," said Jerry Stephenson of the Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition. "That won't be a surprise to us."

Stephenson said the coalition plans to attend the state board hearing and would like an opportunity to testify.

Duncan said she is just hoping the board members, all appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin, a JCPS critic, will give the district a fair hearing.

“We're concerned that minds are made up,” Duncan said.

But the chairman of the state school board said that is not the case.

“I say that they would get a fair hearing,” said Rev. Milton Seymore, who insisted the board would weigh the evidence on both sides.

“We all are independent as far as thinking and believing. No one has said to us that we have to do this or do that.”

Seymore said if JCPS appeals, as expected, it will be at least 30 days before a hearing would be scheduled.

Duncan said JCPS is prepared to go to court if the state board affirms Lewis’ decision.

The audit of JCPS from the state board of education can be read here: 

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