Beshear, Board of Education battle fires up; new board could terminate commissioner Thursday

Ten of the 11 Kentucky Board of Education members filed for a temporary restraining order, but it was denied.
Published: Dec. 11, 2019 at 7:44 PM EST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WAVE) – Gov. Andy Beshear is making good on a controversial campaign promise as a battle fires up in court with a ruling on the new governor’s side.

Eleven Kentucky Board of Education members, previously appointed under former Gov. Matt Bevin, are out after Beshear announced with his first executive order that he was appointing a new board.

Within hours of the announcement, ten of the 11 the former board members filed a lawsuit, claiming the move was legally questionable.

Wednesday afternoon, a judge heard from lawyers on both sides and denied the board members’ request for a temporary injunction. The question the judge wanted to be answered was what made Beshear’s board reorganization any different than what Bevin did when he appointed the current members.

“Given what Gov. Bevin did in reorganizing the Kentucky Board of Education arguing successfully that the governor has that power, I think it’s going to be difficult to now argue the governor doesn’t have that power,” said Sen. Morgan McGarvey. “The people who are on the Board of Education today were put there because the governor blew up the Board of Education and put up his own people. Now, they’re arguing that he shouldn’t have been able to do that. It strikes me as a little disingenuous.”

The attorney representing ten of existing board members appointed under Bevin, Bart Greenwald, claims Beshear broke the law by removing the members before their terms ended, and said he is doing it without cause.

“You cannot fire a board member from the Board of Education without cause,” said Greenwald. “They haven’t asserted cause, they didn’t assert cause today. That’s not a factual issue.”

However, Beshear said the current members lack experience, accepted tickets and other items from lobbyists, and when Commissioner Wayne Lewis was hired, the board did not do enough research on him.

The new members will also be sworn in at a special meeting on Thursday morning at 10 a.m.

The meeting’s agenda reveals time is allowed for discussion and possible action to terminate Lewis’ contract. It also includes appointing an interim commissioner.

The lawyer for the Bevin-appointed board members said he plans to appeal the decision before the new board members are sworn in.

This is a developing story.

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