With commissioner under fire, JCPS leader claims 'agenda at play' with state takeover talk

With commissioner under fire, JCPS leader claims 'agenda at play' with state takeover talk
A state takeover likely would signal the end of Stephen Pruitt's tenure as the Commissioner of Education.
Chris Brady (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Chris Brady (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Just days after teacher rallies derailed his plans, Gov. Matt Bevin is moving quickly to shake things up on the education front.

An executive session of the Kentucky Board of Education has been called for Tuesday. Seven newly appointed members of the BOE will be sworn in, and it's speculated that Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt could be let go.

"You know it's my job as Commissioner of Education, and I'm going to do it until somebody tells me not to," Pruitt said at a town hall meeting at Atherton High School on Monday. "So whatever they choose to do, I work at the pleasure of the board, so we'll see what happens."

JCPS Board of Education member Chris Brady addressed Pruitt at the meeting, urging him to share his opinion on the state audit.

"I believe that this commissioner might not be around by the end of the week," Brady said. "I think this is important that the public knows what the recommendation was before someone else -- namely (one of) these new board members -- turns around and appoints a brand new commissioner to control that narrative."

Brady said Pruitt would recommend state assistance, not a full takeover. But, Pruitt said he's waiting to share his stance until the audit is complete, something that Brady says has been held up on purpose by those in favor of a state takeover.

"I think there is a strategy and an agenda at play," Brady said.

Those close to JCPS who are concerned for Pruitt's job are also unsure what their own futures look like.

"Not sure exactly what's going to happen," JCPS Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio said. "I have a lot of respect for Dr. Pruitt and what he's done. I think he's held JCPS accountable and pushed for change and I think he's continuing to do that."

The Kentucky Education Association posted on Facebook, calling this a "backdoor political maneuver."

The KEA supports Pruitt, too, and hopes he will continue as commissioner.

The special session is scheduled for Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

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