FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Senate approved all but one of Gov. Andy Beshear’s new Board of Education members hours before ending the 2020 legislative session.
Beshear dissolved the former board immediately after taking office in December and appointed 12 new members.
The only member lawmakers did not approve Wednesday was board chairman David Karem.
He served as a state lawmaker for 30 years and served on the Kentucky Board of Education in two separate stints before his most appointment.
Several members of the former board sued to stop the new board from meeting, but Beshear says he can remake the education board after similar moves by former Gov. Matt Bevin.
Multiple judges have denied emergency injunctions to prevent the new board from meeting. The lawsuit is still pending in federal court.
Republican legislative leaders came out against Beshear’s move at the time and Senate President Robert Stivers later introduced a bill to put tighter restrictions on the makeup of the board in terms of political party, race and gender.
“This current Governor was wrong in walking in and blowing up a board that he, as Attorney General, said shouldn’t be done,” Stivers said.
Stivers also criticized the credentials of some of the board members on the Senate floor Wednesday, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, Stivers said he’s willing to cast aside his disagreement with the Governor’s appointments.
“Because the Governor says we need consistency at this point in time, that this is not the time and the place to take these individuals out, I’m going to support that so there can be consistency at this time,” Stivers said.
Several other Republicans, including Senate Majority Floor Leader Damon Thayer, still opposed the appointments.
“He became the first Governor to blow up the Board of Education and start from scratch, and he appointed nothing but members of his own party,” Thayer said. “No Republicans, no independents, no balance whatsoever.”
Democrats supported the appointments, echoing Beshear’s defense of the appointments.
The 11 board members who were approved are Holly Bloodworth, Patrice McCrary, Mike Bowling, Sharon Porter Robinson, Lu Young, JoAnn Adams, Cody Pauley Johnson, Claire Batt, Alvis Johnson and Lee Todd.
Beshear will appoint a new board member to fill Karem’s seat, subject to approval by the Senate during next year’s session.