Education

State education chief urges Bath school board chairman to quit

Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday will recommend to the state school board the removal of Bath County School Board chairman Bill Boyd, who has been embroiled in controversy for months.

Boyd has 20 days to respond before Holliday's recommendation goes to the state board for action.

In a letter to Boyd, Holliday asked him to "consider resigning immediately so that this matter does not further distract from the important work of the local board and the school district."

Boyd, who has been on the Bath County board since 2009, said Monday that he won't resign.

The state Office of Education Accountability last month asked Holliday to consider recommending Boyd's removal, citing several issues including alleged violations of Kentucky's open meetings law and "willful neglect" of duties.

Among other things, the accountability office said Boyd called special school board meetings without giving board members or the news media relevant details; sometimes acted without specific authority from the school board; expected the school board to improperly make decisions while in executive session; and improperly involved himself in school district personnel matters.

The allegations grew out of continuing, often acrimonious, disputes among Boyd, other school board members allied with him, and Bath School Superintendent Nancy Hutchinson over numerous district policy issues.

Differences came to a head in March, when board members tried to terminate Hutchinson's job by rescinding two previous extensions of her contract.

Hutchinson, however, challenged the move in Bath Circuit Court, where Judge William Lane recently issued an temporary injunction that would let her remain in her post for a year. Lane also ordered arbitration of differences between the board and Hutchinson.

Boyd said Monday he was surprised to receive Holliday's letter. Boyd said he sent a written response to the accountability office last month, and he had expected some reply before any action was begun to remove him.

"I thought I would hear from his (Holliday's) office and have a chance to respond or something," Boyd said. "To just get a letter that he was going to recommend that I be removed, without ever getting any response from me or anything, that surprised me."

Boyd insisted that he has tried to improve Bath schools since running for the school board in 2008 as a reform candidate.

"He (Holliday) and I actually are on the same page," Boyd said. "He's trying to improve the state and I'm trying to improve Bath County."

Boyd pictured himself as having been "vilified" in letters or calls to state education officials from backers of the school superintendent.

"People apparently having been calling him (Holliday) complaining about me," he said. "Evidently, they were successful enough that he decided to go ahead without contacting me."

Holliday's letter states that Boyd had demonstrated a pattern of behavior that "constitutes misconduct and willful neglect of duty," and "conduct unbecoming a local board of education member."

If Boyd doesn't exercise his right to respond to Holliday's letter within 20 days, the state board "may remove you from your position by a majority vote, and the dismissal shall be final," Holliday wrote.

But because Boyd has 20 days to respond, the case probably won't get to the state board in time for its regular Aug. 3-4 meeting, state Education Department spokeswoman Lisa Gross said. The board could schedule a special meeting to act, or take up the matter in October, she said Monday.

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