Track down your high school transcript if you want to run for the school board

Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr.
Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins Jr. Photo provided

What’s required of a candidate for a seat on a local Kentucky school board? A copy of the candidate’s high school transcript or results of a high school equivalency test. A college transcript won’t suffice.

That opinion was released Monday from the state Attorney General’s office prompted by a question from Fayette County Clerk Don Blevins.

Representing the Kentucky County Clerk’s Association, Blevins had asked what document a potential candidate to a local school board could file in lieu of a high school transcript or equivalency test result to satisfy the requirements of a new state law. The opinion said Blevins asked whether a college transcript would suffice.

The answer, in an opinion dated November 19 and signed by Assistant Attorney General Taylor Payne, was that the state law passed by the 2018 General Assembly requires a high school transcript proving completion of the 12th grade.

Though the issue has not been a problem in Fayette County, Blevins said a handful of county clerks throughout the state who receive the filing papers of school board candidates had to decide whether a college transcript would be appropriate.

In cases where high schools have closed, especially in smaller school districts, it “would be near impossible to get your high school transcripts, so what it means is that a candidate like that can’t file,” Blevins said.

Members of the state County Clerk’s Association wanted guidance “so the candidates aren’t disenfranchised,” Blevins said.

“This means the document filed by the potential candidate must be a transcript,” the opinion said, adding that it must prove that the candidate completed the 12th grade. “A college transcript would not suffice,” the opinion said, because it cannot be assumed that completion of the 12th grade is required for admission to college.

Blevins said the Attorney General’s opinion gives Kentucky county clerks clarity on what documents are acceptable but, he said, “I think the law is the problem.” He added he was hopeful that theopinion “would give us a little bit of latitude.”

Blevins said he thought for change to occur, a potential candidate would have to challenge the constitutionality of the law.

The 2018 legislation was filed by State Sen. Max Wise, R-Campbellsville, who chairs the Senate Education Committee. He was traveling on Monday and was unavailable to comment.

However, David Fleenor, General Counsel to the Senate Republican leadership, said that once the opinion is reviewed, “if we feel like there needs to be some clarification to the statute, we will do that.”

Eric Kennedy, the Kentucky School Boards Association governmental relations director, said cases in which records might have been lost raised concerns in some communities.

“We had a lot of questions from all over the state, either current board members or candidates from all over the state on what they would do if their records could not be found,” said Kennedy.

The Frankfort State Journal reported in July that Franklin County Clerk Jeff Hancock had to get additional documentation from two school board candidates. One of them, Larry Perkins , was quoted in the State Journal as saying he was able to get a copy of his high school transcript at Franklin County High School but “I think it’s an unnecessary step.”

The Fayette County Board of Education approved a 5 cent tax increase for school safety earlier this year, after a packed hearing for public comments.