Fayette schools chair Melissa Bacon should resign after investigation, opponent says

Fayette County Public schools board chairwoman Melissa Bacon.
Fayette County Public schools board chairwoman Melissa Bacon.

Samantha Rodarte, who is opposing Fayette County school board chairwoman Melissa Bacon in the November general election, is calling for Bacon to resign and withdraw from the race.

In a Sept. 7 investigative report, the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability found that Bacon violated state law by involving herself in personnel matters at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, specifically the hiring and firing of coaches and other staff. The agency is requiring Bacon to get training on the responsibilities of school board members, who are not supposed to be involved in hiring and firing decisions except for superintendent and school board attorney.

Rodarte, who is challenging Bacon for the District 1 seat on the school board, issued a news release Tuesday alleging that Bacon’s actions “disqualify her from public service.”

Bacon also released a statement, saying “my actions were a sincere effort to convey concerns that had been shared with me by my constituents, not to insert myself into personnel matters.” She said: “I would never intentionally overstep my bounds.”

Bacon has said she was appropriately carrying out her duties as a school board member and, in some cases, appropriately advocating as a parent.

But the report said Bacon used her position as a board member to have her child’s class schedule changed. Bacon told investigators that was not correct. She said that one of her children was in a calculus class and needed to move to Algebra 3 because of the level of difficulty and, as any family would, she and the child made the request within the appropriate time frame.

“I did not ever use my position as a board member to have either of my children’s class schedules changed,” Bacon said in the Tuesday statement.

In response to Rodarte’s statement that Bacon should resign from the school board and leave the race, Bacon said that Bacon’s record over the past nine years clearly demonstrates that she is “an unrelenting advocate for all students who does not allow adult issues to interfere with serving my constituents. The fact that my opponent has chosen to spend her time attacking me instead of campaigning for the kinds of changes we are championing at the school board levels makes me question her judgment.”

After receiving the report last week, Bacon said she took immediate steps to fulfill the additional training prescribed by the state agency. She said she has completed one of the three hours and will complete the other two on Oct. 18.

“As I have previously stated, I respect the authority of the OEA. However, I disagree with the gross mischaracterization of my advocacy on behalf of my constituents,” Bacon said.

She said that the two previous Fayette County superintendents who were in office during the incidents in the report have spoken out on social media in support of her.

She said more than 100 parents, community members and business leaders have voiced support of her, confirming that they personally had brought the concerns to Bacon that were included in the OEA findings.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears

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