The House Education Committee approved two measures Thursday that would ease Kentucky’s school anti-nepotism laws.
The General Assembly had previously banned the nepotism that was rampant in school districts until the passage of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act.
House Bill 277 would remove the restriction that a person is not eligible to be on a school board if the school district employs an aunt, uncle, son-in-law or daughter-in-law.
Under existing law, people aren’t eligible to be a school board member if they have certain relatives employed by the same district. “Relative” under the current law means father, mother, brother, sister, husband, wife, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, son-in-law and daughter-in-law.
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LaRue County Middle School principal Jason Detre told the committee that small school districts have a hard time finding qualified board members, and the law makes it more difficult. In some small counties, a school district is one of the largest employers.
“We’re looking for some relief,” Detre said.
House Bill 277 is sponsored by State Rep. Brandon Reed, R-Hodgenville.
Reed said that having mothers-in-law and fathers-in law, nephews and nieces and cousins employed by the district doesn’t make someone ineligible to be a school board member. He said the statute that restricts someone whose aunt, uncle, daughter-in-law or son-in law appears inequitable.
State Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, voted against the bill. State Rep. Jill York, R-Grayson, passed on the vote, but other lawmakers approved it.
The committee also approved House Bill 269, sponsored by Rep. Steve Riley, R-Glasgow.
It would allow relatives who are ineligible for employment in a school district to be substitute employees in the district. That bill was unanimously approved.
Riley told the panel that he fully supported the state’s nepotism laws but that a lot of rural districts are having a hard time finding substitute bus drivers and substitute teachers.
The Kentucky School Boards Association didn’t request the bills but supports both, spokesman Brad Hughes said Friday.
He said it’s difficult to find people to run for school board seats in a number of districts, especially in rural areas, because of Kentucky’s anti-nepotism laws. Hughes said some people won’t run for school board seats because they are concerned that it will prevent their families from working in the school district.
The bills now go to the full House of Representatives.