The target of multiple investigations over GED claims, Knox County Board of Education Chairman Dexter Smith resigned Friday, according to state Education Commissioner Stephen Pruitt.
“The Kentucky Department of Education has an open investigation into numerous allegations regarding the Knox County Public Schools,” Pruitt said in a news release. “As part of that investigation, Mr. Smith was subpoenaed and this morning met with KDE investigators in Knox County. Following that meeting, I received and accepted Mr. Smith’s resignation.”
The commissioner will begin the process of appointing a new member to the Knox board. Under the law, the commissioner has up to 90 days to fill a vacancy.
A board member must meet eligibility requirements in state law, including holding a high school diploma or its equivalent. That requirement contributed to Smith’s ultimate resignation.
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On Thursday, Terry Sebastian, a spokesman for Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office, said the Education Department had asked the office to review allegations that Smith had an adult education teacher take a GED test for him.
Kentucky State Police trooper Shane Jacobs said Wednesday that Smith had someone take a GED test for him at the Jackson County Adult Education Center on March 30.
Larry Bryson, an attorney for the Jackson County school district, told the Herald-Leader that a teacher at Jackson County Adult Education, which is overseen by the school district, admitted that she took the test for Smith. Bryson said the teacher retired Tuesday during the school district’s investigation of the incident.
Bryson said Jackson County school officials knew of no other similar incidents. However, the Washington, D.C.-based GED Testing Service said the service had suspended all testing at the Jackson County Adult Education Center pending a full investigation.
Smith has not returned phone calls seeking comment.
Jacobs told the Herald-Leader that about two weeks ago, police began investigating allegations that Smith committed perjury. Jacobs said state police were waiting on the commonwealth’s attorney to allow them to present a first-degree perjury case to a Knox County grand jury. Jacobs declined to specify how Smith is alleged to have committed perjury.
However, to serve on a local school board, a person must have signed an affidavit certifying he or she has a high school diploma or equivalency, according to a Kentucky School Boards Association document.
Jacobs said Wednesday that police had confirmed through its investigation that “Mr. Smith did not take the GED exam at the Jackson County Adult Education Center on March 30,” Jacobs said. “He said he did. He’s got a GED in hand with his name on it.”