Fayette County’s Breckinridge Elementary Principal Michael Price impeded his school-based council on two issues, a state Office of Education Accountability investigation found.
Under Kentucky school laws, principals must consult with or get the approval from their school councils before making many decisions. Each council includes parents, teachers, and an administrator of the school. The council has the responsibility to set school policy and make decisions outlined in state law.
A final investigative report dated Sept. 2 and obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act said Price put all English Language Learners in a single classroom without council approval and changed the school schedule without asking council members. The Office of Education Accountability required Price to get three hours training from a trainer approved by the Kentucky Department of Education on the subject of “The Authority of School-Based Decision Making Councils in School Governance” by Sept. 30.
“Since the release of the report, I have completed the recommended SBDM (school-based decision making) training and corrected the procedural errors,” Price told the Herald-Leader Thursday in an email.
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The investigation found that Price placed all English as a second language students in a single class without council approval. Two years ago, for the 2013-14 school year, the council approved a program to create a class for English as a second language students and a year later, asked to review the class, the report said.
“Price represented to the Breckinridge School Council that the English Language Learners program was a districtwide program over which the council had no authority,” the report said. “As a result of this mistake, the Breckinridge Elemenary School council was not permitted to review the success of the English Language Learners program or to make changes to the program it believed necessary to meet the developmental needs of all English Language Learners.”
Price told the Herald-Leader that the class in question was designed to help ELL students acquire language skills and understand content in third grade using a specific technique.
“The instructional grouping of the class was based on language needs and was staffed with a certified teacher specially trained in teaching English as a second language. We respect the ruling of OEA and are no longer using this model although it was found to be successful in closing the achievement gap for ELL in the 2014-15 school year,” Price said.
On the second issue, Fayette County Public Schools missed seven days in 2014-15 due to inclement weather. As a result of the missed days, the district had to amend its school calendar to account for the missed instructional time. The district, by a vote of the school board, increased the school day by 30 minutes. Team leaders on all grade levels at Breckinridge decided their plan for adding the 30 minutes, but Price didn’t take the schedule back to council for review or a vote on the schedule change, the investigation found..
“Principal Price failed to include the council in determining how the additional 30 minutes would be assigned to accommodate learning,” the report said.
Price responded that when 30 minutes were added to the school day by the board to make up missed snow days, “we did not know that the change needed school council approval.”
“In the future we will be sure to take all amended schedules to the council as well as revise our policy to allow for schedule changes such as inclement weather,” he said.
Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk responded to both issues in an email Thursday.
"Our goal is to continue to support our school leaders,” Caulk said. He said that’s why his entry plan, called the Blueprint for Student Success, includes strategies to strengthen “high functioning” school councils.