FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Kentucky General Assembly voted Wednesday to override Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of an expansive education bill that directs how history should be taught in Kentucky schools, gives authority of curriculum and principal hiring decisions to superintendents, and limits authority of the Jefferson County Board of Education to conduct business and administer spending.
The Senate voted 24-12-1 to override the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 1 and send it to the House, which later made the measure law on a 65-28 vote.
The legislation would transfer authority of school curriculum and principal hiring from school-based decision making councils to superintendents.
SB 1 also guides history instruction, directing teachers to include concepts like all people are created equal and deserve equal protection under the law and that no one should bear responsibility for the actions of others of the same race or sex.
The legislation also includes several required readings. Former President Ronald Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech drew criticism from Beshear in his veto message.
SB 1 indirectly included criminal penalties for public school employees who provide instruction on controversial topics related to public policy or social issues that is not age-appropriate or is deemed irrelevant, discriminatory or disrespectful to students’ views; require students advocate for a perspective with which they disagrees or require personnel to undergo training, orientation or therapy that coerces employees to stereotype groups.
Teachers who violate such provisions could have also been forced to leave their classrooms for at least five years, according to an analysis by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence.
Sen. Max Wise, R-Cambellsville, said lawmakers would remedy that “drafting error” in a separate bill moving through the legislature. House Bill 44, legislation that allows school districts to allow excused absences for student mental health reasons, was amended and passed by both chambers Thursday to fix that issue.
"I think before we pass a bill that potentially could have pretty extreme consequences for educators that we should fix that before we pass the bill," Rep. Tina Bojanowski, D-Louisville, said Wednesday.
SB 1 also restricts the Jefferson County Board of Education to meeting once every four weeks to conduct business and allows superintendents of Jefferson County Public Schools to spend up to $250,000 on contracts and purchases without board approval, up from the current $20,000 threshold.
Diane Porter, chairwoman of the Jefferson County Board of Education, has said she would advocate for “appropriate legal action” if SB 1 becomes law.
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