Education commissioner Lewis offers JCPS settlement with state takeover looming

Education commissioner Lewis offers JCPS settlement with state takeover looming

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis offered a settlement to the Jefferson County Public School district, the Department of Education confirmed Monday night.

Details are not known on the specifics of the settlement proposed.

It's a somewhat surprising move, as less than two weeks ago, Lewis told WAVE 3 News Anchor David Mattingly the appeal process would "be ugly," as the state would go into detail about the findings of their audit.

Now it looks as if the appeal process could end before hearings begin.

The Department of Education issued the following statement:

"We feel it is in the best interest of the district's students for the Department of Education to try to work with JCPS before a long legal battle ensues. We need to get to work immediately -- together and before the school year begins --  to address the deficiencies of the audit and begin district improvement efforts. If an agreement is reached, we will immediately begin to work together to build a district that is committed to meeting the needs of all learners in a safe environment."

JCPS confirmed they are talking about a settlement.

"JCPS was approached by KDE (Kentucky Dept. of Education) with a potential settlement," spokeswoman Allison Martin said in an email to WAVE 3 News on Monday night. "The settlement is being reviewed by legal counsel and counsel will respond to KDE."

Lewis was appointed to his position in an interim capacity by Gov. Matt Bevin in April. The same day, he promised to release the finding of the state audit as soon as possible.

The audit was soon completed, and Lewis quickly recommended a state takeover of JCPS.

JCPS appealed the recommendation in May and is awaiting a hearing to begin in September. This settlement, if agreed to by JCPS, would negate the need for a hearing.

Officials with the school district must accept the terms of the settlement by Aug. 1. That deadline exists in order to bring the settlement to a vote at the Department of Education's next board meeting, which is Aug. 2.

If JCPS doesn't accept terms of the settlement by that deadline, or if board members vote to reject the settlement, the appeal process would continue for JCPS to avoid a state takeover and a hearing would take place in September.

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