Kentucky superintendents are taking issue with a decision by the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board to remove online flags on files of educators who have pending complaints against them.
Superintendents have been able to access those flagged files before hiring educators.
The Education Professional Standards Board is responsible for issuing and renewing certificates for all Kentucky teachers and administrators. The staff works closely with school districts in the hiring process to help ensure there is a properly credentialed educator in every professional position in Kentucky public schools.
The decision to remove the flags drew criticism Friday from superintendents at the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents summer conference in Lexington, according to Kentucky School Boards Association spokesman Brad Hughes. Hughes reported on the meeting for his organization's website.
Tom Shelton, executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents and a former Fayette County superintendent, said, "Superintendents would say if there is anyone flagged for any of these reasons, we should know because we don't want to hire that person."
Jimmy Adams, acting executive director of the professional standards board, told superintendents at the meeting that the board was acting on the advice of its legal counsel, and the move was tied to a pending lawsuit. Adams said the concern of some on the professional standards board was that teachers don't get an opportunity to apply for or be considered for positions because of the flags.
The decision doesn't involve the professional standards board sharing information in cases of an educator's certificate being revoked or suspended. It applies only to unresolved complaints.
Districts may submit an open-records request to determine whether there is a pending case before the professional standards board involving a job candidate, but Adams said the agency would be able only to confirm or deny that a complaint case existed.
Webster County Schools Superintendent Rachel Yarbrough, president-elect of the superintendent group, said she was concerned about the decision by the Education Professional Standards Board, or EPSB.
"I feel that the cost for EPSB to remove the alert system for school districts seeking high-quality professional educators is much too high," Yarbrough told the Herald-Leader.
"We want to seek, attract and retain the best educators possible to work with our students, and that obligation requires all of us to set the bar high for whomever gets that privilege," she said.
"We don't think that decision was made for the kids of Kentucky," Floyd County Schools Superintendent Henry Webb, who is president of the superintendent group, said at the meeting.
Shelton said he was suggesting that superintendents change job applications to ask every candidate whether they had a case before the professional standards board. If hired, people who failed to answer the question honestly could face disciplinary action.
Shelton said Kentucky superintendents would continue to talk to professional standards board officials about the issue.