WAVE 3 News Editorial - May 22, 2018: Don't Vote for a Takeover

Dr. Stephen L Pruitt (Source; Kentucky Department of Education)
Dr. Stephen L Pruitt (Source; Kentucky Department of Education)
Dr. Wayne Lewis (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Dr. Wayne Lewis (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Kentucky's Education Board violated open meetings law last month when it replaced education commissioner Stephen Pruitt with Wayne Lewis, Jr., according to a ruling by the Kentucky attorney general. Pruitt was expected to recommend state assistance for Jefferson County Public Schools following a 14-month audit at the time he was ousted. It is the same recommendation we advocated in an editorial a month ago, not a state takeover, as might happen now with the commissioner and board member changes.

The former commissioner had studied Jefferson County Public Schools for more than a year and saw problems being addressed by the school board and superintendent. A massive restructuring of the district's central office was underway to improve organizational and communications deficiencies.

A plan to reshuffle several schools to enable the district to maximize space and serve students better was ready to be implemented this fall, with longer-term construction and renovations planned. Investments in online math and reading assessments helped determine where students needed more support and plans were set to improve racial equity. Safe Crisis Management Training was underway at each school, new hires were made to support special education students and students with behavior issues, and only certified teachers were leading classes.

There is so much more to do to make JCPS the system it must be, as tens of thousands of students are not where they need to be in reading and math metrics. We continue to strongly encourage the state school board to let the JCPS board and superintendent track on the deficiencies with a definitive timeline to eliminate them, and not vote with the interim commissioner's recommendation for a state takeover of JCPS.

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