Ousted Education Board Wants New Law To Reinstate Them

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Former Kentucky Board of Education members want lawmakers to overturn Gov. Andy Beshear’s decision to create a new board last month.

One of Gov. Beshear’s first actions as governor was replacing the entire board. The previous board was made up of former Gov. Matt Bevin appointees and Gov. Beshear says they had ideological differences about public education policy.

In a statement issued Wednesday, a collection of former board members asked the General Assembly to amend state law and prohibit the governor from removing members of the Kentucky Board of Education before the ends of their terms without cause.

“The importance of this matter cannot be overstated,” the statement said. “If any governor can now on impulse sweep away the Board of Education, the board is effectively meaningless and the Commissioner of Education might as well report directly to the governor.”

Gov. Beshear has argued in the past that he has the right to reorganize the Kentucky Board of Education, citing a state law that allows such moves to be made while lawmakers are not in session, and court cases involving former Gov. Matt Bevin’s decision to reorganize other education boards.

Coincidentally, Beshear argued against Bevin in those cases while Beshear was attorney general.

House Speaker David Osborne, R-Prospect, said he’s reluctant to consider any legislation to alter the governor’s power.

“I still think that the use of that executive power was inappropriate and needs to be questioned,” Osborne said. “But just as I’ve said many times with (Bevin’s) pardon situation, I think that we need to be careful about making wholesale changes just because of one inappropriate action.”

The old Kentucky Board of Education members moved their lawsuit challenging the governor’s executive order from state to federal court last week.