KEA wants to join Beshear’s lawsuit against Bevin over education board

Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler.
Kentucky Education Association President Stephanie Winkler. Photo provided

The Kentucky Education Association went to court Monday to join Attorney General Andy Beshear’s lawsuit against Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of education boards in the state.

KEA filed a motion in Franklin Circuit Court, association president Stephanie Winkler said in a news release. The motion will be heard July 24, executive director Mary Ruble said.

KEA is a voluntary membership organization for Kentucky public school employees, including approximately 26,000 active teachers.

KEA’s motion is limited to the immediate effect of the executive order on the Education Professional Standards Board, “but we applaud Attorney General Beshear’s complaint and fully support the legal challenge in its entirety,” Winkler said.

Bevin, a Republican, signed an executive order June 2 that dissolved and reorganized several state education boards, giving him more control over the boards.

Beshear, a Democrat, responded by suing Bevin for the fourth time, claiming that the governor didn’t have the authority to dissolve and reorganize several state education boards to which Bevin appoints members. That lawsuit, filed in Franklin Circuit Court, asked a judge to “stop Gov. Bevin’s unlawful and unconstitutional actions that seek to control the decisions of statutorily independent state boards.” Beshear asked the court for a permanent injunction against implementing Bevin’s order.

Bevin’s office didn’t immediately respond Tuesday to a request for a comment. But Jessica Fletcher, a spokeswoman for the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, said the Governor's Office and the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The motion is scheduled to be heard on July 26th, Fletcher said.

State law gives the Education Professional Standards Board independence, and the responsibility to select its own executive director, Beshear’s lawsuit said, but the executive order removes that statutory authority and instead gives the governor the sole authority to appoint the board’s executive director.

Winkler said that as the licensing authority for certified teachers across the state, the Education Professional Standards Board is an integral part of the professional life of every educator. She said initial certification, renewal and disciplinary actions must be “open and transparent, and should not be subject to undue political influence.

“KEA believes the executive order if permanently implemented, will impair the statutory authority and processes of the EPSB to the significant detriment of all educators, whether or not they are” KEA members.

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