WKYT - Perry - Headlines

Combs confident allegations of misconduct against Perry Co. school board members will be found baseless

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Update, 4/23/13:

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - The chairman of the Perry County Board of Education is confident allegations of misconduct against him and two of his colleagues will be found baseless.

Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday on April 4th sent letters accusing three board members of ordering officials at Perry County Central High School to give students breaks during the school day - a violation of the state's turnaround plan for the school.

The board's chairman, John "Pumpkin" Combs, said the allegations are false and board members have not heard from Holliday since receiving the letters.

They didn't try to get our side of it," Combs said. "They just came along and said, "We've got stuff that tells us you've done these things.' But somebody in the Department of Education should have came here and sat down and said, 'We want to meet with you...we feel like this is going on here.'"

Combs said other board members have written letters to Holliday denying the accusations and he wants to see how those letters are handled before he tries to communicate with Holliday.

"I think that sometimes people call in and it's just like Chicken Little," Combs said. "You keep hollering, 'The sky is falling,'...somewhere down the road something is going to happen...but sometimes it's just a tactic used to scare."

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Update, 4/11/13, 1:00 a.m.

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Kentucky Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday is accusing three members of the Perry County Board of Education of interfering with the state's education recovery plan.

Holliday sent letters (which are posted in the above link) to board members James Ritchie and Charlene Miller and Chairman John Combs.

The three board members are all accused of ordering officials at Perry County Central High School to reinstitute breaks during the school day - a violation of the state's turnaround plan for the school.

"I am very upset over these charges," Miller said. "And I will be writing a letter to the commissioner. I want (the allegations) rescinded or I want to see the proof that they have."

Miller is also accused of violating the plan by asking the Educational Recovery staff to buy textbooks.

"I just feel like someone has a personal vendetta," she said. "And I don't know who it is. But I do know the allegations are completely false."

Another board member, James Ritchie, is accused of threatening Perry Central's principal, Neal Feltner.

Ritchie is also accused of threatening to dock the pay of one school district employee.

He denied all of the Holliday's accusations.

"The allegations against me are absolutely not true," Ritchie said. "And I intend to advise Commissioner Holliday that there is no truth to the allegations."

Board member Jerry Wayne Stacy said in a statement, "The things in these allegations are completely contrary to anything I have seen out of my fellow board members."

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Original Story, 4/10/13, 6:00 p.m.

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - State education officials are accusing three members of the Perry County Board of Education of interfering with the state's education recovery plan.

Board members James Ritchie and Charlene Miller and board chairman John Combs all received letters from Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday, who accuses them of hindering the state's turnaround plan for Perry Central High School.

All three are accused of pressuring officials at the high school to put breaks for students back in the school day.

Ritchie is accused of threatening PCC principal Neal Feltner.

Both Ritchie and Miller denied all of the allegations.

"The allegations against me are absolutely not true," Ritchie said. "And I intend to advise Commissioner Holliday that there is no truth to the allegations."

Miller said, "The allegations are completely false. There is no merit to those complaints whatsoever. I do not know who turned in those allegations."

Holliday released the following statement to WYMT:

"It is my responsibility as the Commissioner of Education to monitor turnaround efforts at Kentucky public schools. Based on the information I have received from KDE education recovery staff and others, I felt I needed to address the situation with school board members to ensure school turnaround efforts in Perry County continue and are successful. It is my hope board members will view the correspondence as an opportunity to review their actions. I will continue to monitor day-to-day activities in Perry County to ensure the success of the school turnaround efforts there."

A copy of the letters Holliday sent to the board members is viewable by following the above link.

We left a message for Combs but our call was not returned.


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