Education

Knox school chairman under attorney general’s investigation over GED

Knox County school board chairman Dexter Smith.
Knox County school board chairman Dexter Smith. (WYMT)

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office is joining the agencies investigating allegations that Knox County school board chairman Dexter Smith had an adult education teacher take a GED test for him.

“At the request of the Kentucky Department of Education, the Office of the Attorney General is currently reviewing the matter,” spokesman Terry Sebastian said Thursday.

Frank Shelton, a spokesman for Knox County Schools, said Thursday in an email statement that the school district had been advised that the attorney general handles issues of eligibility for local school board members.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Shane Jacobs said Wednesday that Smith had someone take a GED test for him at the Jackson County Adult Education Center on March 30.

Larry Bryson, an attorney for the Jackson County school district, told the Herald-Leader Thursday that a teacher at Jackson County Adult Education, which is overseen by the school district, admitted that she took the test for Smith. Bryson said the teacher retired Tuesday during the school district’s investigation of the incident.

Bryson said Jackson County school officials knew of no other similar incidents. However, the Washington, D.C.-based GED Testing Service said the service had suspended all testing at the Jackson County Adult Education Center pending a full investigation.

Smith didn’t return a phone call seeking comment Thursday.

Jacobs told the Herald-Leader that about two weeks ago, police began investigating allegations that Smith committed perjury. Jacobs said state police were waiting on the commonwealth’s attorney to allow them to present a first-degree perjury case to a Knox County grand jury. Jacobs declined to specify how Smith is alleged to have committed perjury.

However, to serve on a local school board, a person must have signed an affidavit under penalty of perjury certifying a high school diploma or equivalency examination, according to a Kentucky School Boards Association document.

Jacobs said Wednesday that police had confirmed through their investigation that “Mr. Smith did not take the GED exam at the Jackson County Adult Education Center on March 30,” Jacobs said. “He said he did. He’s got a GED in hand with his name on it.”

Shelton said faculty and staff in the Knox school district are cooperating with the Kentucky Department of Education, the attorney general, and Kentucky State Police “in two separate investigations” being conducted regarding allegations against members of the school board.

People who want to provide evidence or require additional information about the investigations are asked to contact the Kentucky Department of Education, attorney general, or Kentucky State Police directly, Shelton said.

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

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