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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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Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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