Board Brushes Aside Beshear's Request, Plans To Name Commissioner

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky Board of Education plans to
name a new education commissioner, brushing aside a request from
Gov.-elect Steve Beshear to reopen a search for someone to fill the
spot.

Chairman Joe Brothers said the board has selected a candidate
from four finalists and wants to make an announcement Nov. 25.

"We've heard a message over the last few days from across the
state that it is time to make a decision," Brothers said.

The comments came days after Beshear asked the board to reopen
the search nationally, hire a new search firm and seek additional
candidates so it would have a broader pool of people to draw from.
Beshear said in a brief statement Wednesday that he is "deeply
disappointed" in the board's decision to forgo another search.

In May, the state school board hired Illinois educator Barbara
Erwin, but she resigned from the $220,000 post shortly after amid
controversy over errors on her resume and criticism of her
leadership in past jobs. The hiring process has drawn scrutiny
since Erwin's hiring and resignation.

Brothers said the board's decision had nothing to do with
Beshear. Instead, Brothers said, board members feared the integrity
of the search would have been jeopardized had it scrapped its
current batch of finalists.

"We have some responsibility to these people who have
applied," he said. "Now, had it turned out today that they were
not the quality people we wanted to be our commissioner, then
certainly it would've been a different outcome completely - whether
or not the governor had approached us. It's just an inopportune
time for us to change horses in midstream."

The Kentucky education commissioner post has been vacant for
almost a year. The previous commissioner, Gene Wilhoit, resigned to
take a job with a Washington, D.C.-based education advocacy group.

The board interviewed four finalists: Richard Hughes, retired
Hardin County school superintendent; Larry Vick, the Owensboro
school superintendent; state Rep. Jon Draud, an Edgewood Republican
and the retired superintendent of the Ludlow school district in
northern Kentucky; and Jim Warford, former superintendent of a
Florida school district and a former chancellor of the Florida
Department of Education.


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