State hearing will be first hurdle for JCPS appeal
The local school board will get its chance to rebut points made by interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis in his recommendation for state management of JCPS.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Jefferson County Board of Education took the first step Tuesday in what could be an arduous legal battle over control of Kentucky’s largest school system.
Board members voted unanimously to seek a hearing before the Kentucky Board of Education. The local school board will get its chance to rebut points made by interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis in his recommendation for state management of Jefferson County Public Schools while Lewis will have an opportunity to defend his decision.
The recommendation came at the culmination of a 14-month audit of JCPS that shows “a pattern of significant lack of efficiency and effectiveness within JCPS,” Lewis wrote in an April 30 letter to the district outlining his recommendation for state management.
Diane Porter, chair of the Jefferson County Board of Education, said Tuesday that board members will not comment on their decision to request a hearing.
On Wednesday, Gov. Matt Bevin said he wasn’t surprised by the Jefferson County school board’s decision to appeal the recommended takeover. He said he would have been “disappointed if they hadn’t.”
“If they believe in their ability to do the job, it would be expected that they would challenge this, it really would be,” Bevin told reporters. “I would beg to differ with respect to whether the job has been getting done well. It’s not been getting done well.”
Here’s a quick look at how the appeal process plays out from here:
The state board must give at least a 20-day notice ahead of the administrative hearing under state law, and Lewis will provide board members with his written recommendation and supporting information.
The Office of the Attorney General will provide a hearing officer to coordinate the hearing schedule and rule on procedural issues, Lewis wrote in his April 30 letter to JCPS. State law allows both sides to file motions, briefs, objections and evidence and call and cross-examine witnesses. Both sides can review evidence and lists of witnesses five days before the hearing.
The state education board will vote whether to approve or reject Lewis’ JCPS takeover recommendation, and the hearing officer will prepare a final order based on that vote, according to the April 30 letter.
That might not be the end of the legal battle. Either side can appeal the decision in circuit court.
Reach reporter Kevin Wheatley at 502-585-0838 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @KevinWheatleyKY.
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