A state senator asked Kentucky's attorney general Friday for an opinion on whether a student and the Fayette County Equity Council chairman can be added to the superintendent screening committee.
Fayette school board members maintain that they can't add members to the committee beyond six positions required by state law. The committee will review candidates for Fayette County superintendent and will make a recommendation to the school board.
The six required positions on the committee are two teachers, elected by teachers; one classified employee, elected by classified employees; one principal, elected by principals; one parent or guardian, elected by PTA presidents, and one school board member appointed by the chairman.
State Sen. Reginald Thomas, D-Lexington, said Friday that he asked Attorney General Jack Conway for the opinion. Conway spokeswoman Allison Martin said that barring unforeseen circumstances, she expects that Conway will issue an opinion.
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Thomas said the Lexington-Fayette County NAACP asked him to request to add the Equity Council chairman, Roy Woods. The Equity Council monitors equity issues and works to close the achievement gap involving minority, disabled and low-income students.
NAACP officials want "to make sure there is a diverse number of voices," Thomas said Friday. In a news release, NAACP officials said they were "very concerned" about the equity issues that have led to achievement gaps between minority students and other students in Fayette County.
NAACP officials requested that the Equity Council chairman be included on the screening committee "to ensure that the equity issues are a priority for the next superintendent for the district," the news release said.
Tom Shelton resigned as superintendent in December to become executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. Marlene Helm, a longtime Fayette County school official, is expected to be interim superintendent for at least six months.
Meanwhile, a group of students from the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence asked board chairman John Price to endorse an effort to amend the laws relating to the superintendent search committee.
Before Thomas made the request of Conway, Fayette school board members began working on another avenue to put a student and the equity council chairman on the screening committee. The board members have been drafting a resolution asking the Kentucky General Assembly to change state law.
Board member Doug Barnett said at a Jan. 12 planning meeting that the resolution would support adding a student and the chairman of the Fayette Equity Council.
"I think we have the opportunity to get the language absolutely correct" in proposed legislation, Barnett said.
Helm said at a planning meeting that the draft resolution will be circulated among many people in the district and in the community. It is expected to be reviewed at the Jan. 26 board meeting.
The members of the screening committee are district budget director Julane Mullins, Fayette County Education Association president Jessica Hiler, associate certified personnel director Meribeth Gaines, principal representative Kate McAnelly of Beaumont Middle School, parent representative Sharon Mofield-Boswell, and school board member Daryl Love.
Under the law, the school board has to consider the screening committee's recommendation but isn't required to appoint a superintendent from that recommendation.