Elaine Farris plans to retire as Clark County school superintendent

Clark County School Superintendent Elaine Farris plans to retire July 1.

Farris, under fire from a citizens' group since summer, made the unexpected announcement at Tuesday night's Clark County Board of Education meeting, according to The Winchester Sun.

She initially came under criticism after replacing Paul Columbia as football coach at George Rogers Clark High School following the 2011 season. That controversy led to last summer's formation of Stand Up Clark County, a citizens' group that leveled various complaints against Farris over school issues beyond the coaching change. Columbia's wife, Patti Columbia, was one of the group's leaders.

In November, two candidates backed by Stand Up Clark County were elected to seats on the school board.

Shortly after the election, Farris sued Paul and Patti Columbia and Joan Graves, another Stand Up leader, alleging they had libeled and slandered her.

The Columbias filed a countersuit this week.

Before becoming Clark superintendent in 2009, Farris held high-ranking posts at the Kentucky Department of Education. She became Kentucky's first black school superintendent in 2004, taking over the leadership of the Shelby County Public Schools.

Farris was a finalist for superintendent of Fayette County Public Schools in 2011.