Education

Bath County School Board chairman faces possible removal

The state Office of Education Accountability has asked the Kentucky Department of Education to consider removing the chairman of the Bath County School Board because of several issues, including alleged violations of the state Open Meetings Law.

A decision is unlikely until August.

Meanwhile, in a related matter, Bath County Schools Superintendent Nancy Hutchinson has sued the Bath County Board of Education, seeking to overturn a board vote this spring to essentially terminate Hutchinson's contract, effective Thursday. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Thursday morning in Bath Circuit Court.

Both developments are symptoms of ongoing disputes between Hutchinson and some board members dating back a number of years.

The latest round came earlier this month, when the education accountability office — which investigates education complaints — issued a report detailing several findings of fact against board chairman Bill Boyd, including alleged violations of the state Open Meetings Law. The statute essentially prohibits doing public business in secret.

In one instance, the report said, Boyd emailed other Bath County board members asking them to approve a work assignment for the board's attorney, rather than making the request in an open meeting. It also said Boyd sometimes communicates informally with some members about board business, which "creates the appearance of conducting board business outside a properly called open and public meeting," the report said.

The accountability office said that when it questioned Boyd about such incidents, he denied they occurred or claimed ignorance of proper procedures. His "response ... leads to the conclusion that Mr. Boyd is either willfully neglecting his duties or he is incompetent to hold the office of school board member," the report said.

The accountability office has referred the report to the state Department of Education "for resolution or removal of Mr. Boyd from the Bath County Board of Education."

According to education department spokeswoman Lisa Gross, the next step is for state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday to decide whether to send the case to the Kentucky Board of Education, which could vote to remove Boyd. The full board's next meeting is in August, Gross said.

Boyd declined to comment Tuesday, citing Thursday's court hearing on Hutchinson's lawsuit against the Bath County board.

At issue in that case is the school board's vote in March to rescind two "rollover" contract extensions for Hutchinson in 2009 and 2010, which apparently would put her out of work at the end of June. Bath board members also voted at the same March meeting to form a search committee to look for a new superintendent.

Hutchinson contends in her lawsuit that the board's actions violated her rights, and that she still has as valid contract through June 30, 2013.

The suit seeks an injunction "prohibiting the board from taking any action to remove Hutchinson from her position as superintendent of the Bath County school system" except through provisions of state law.

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