Kentucky EPSB Attempts Move Toward Secrecy

The Kentucky Educational Professional Standards Board (EPSB), made up of the following members:

  • Cassandra Webb, Chair — teacher, Lawrence County — cassandra.webb@lawrence.kyschools.us
  • Marie McMillen — teacher, Marshall County — marie.mcmillen@marshall.kyschools.us
  • Vacancy — Chief Academic Officer of independent/not-for-profit college or university
  • Mary John O’Hair — Dean, UK College of Education — mjohair@uky.edu
  • Brandy Beardsley — teacher, Madison County — brandy.beardley@madison.kyschools.us
  • Michael Ross — teacher, Mason County — mike.ross@mason.kyschools.us
  • Ellen Blevins — teacher, Barren County — ellen.blevins@barren.kyschools.us
  • Laura Lee Schneider — teacher, Kenton County — laura.schneider@kenton.kyschools.us
  • Barbara Boyd — teacher, Jefferson County — barbara.boyd@jefferson.kyschools.us
  • Anthony Strong — superintendent, Pendleton County — anthony.strong@pendleton.kyschools.us
  • Sandy Curry — teacher, Adair County — sandy.sinclair@adair.kyschools.us
  • Shannon Treece — principal, Eminence — shannon.treece@eminence.kyschools.us
  • Tolya Ellis — teacher, Shelby County — tolya.ellis@shelby.kyschools.us
  • David C. Whaley — Dean, Murray State — dwhaley2@murraystate.edu
  • Allen Kennedy — school board member, Hancock County — aek305@live.com
  • Robert L. King — President, Council on Postsecondary Education, ex-officio — robert.king@ky.gov
  • Terry Holliday — Commissioner, Department of Education, ex-officio — terry.holliday@education.ky.gov
  • Robert L. Brown — Executive Director of EPSB, staff — RobertL.Brown@ky.gov
  • Jimmy Adams — Deputy Executive Director, EPSB, staff — Jimmy.Adams@ky.gov
  • Ashley Abshire — Executive Assistant, EPSB, staff — Ashley.Abshire@ky.gov

Is pushing for what most would consider extreme secrecy. New efforts, which we hear were promoted by Michael Ross and a couple others on the board close to Montgomery County Schools superintendent Joshua Powell (IOW, Terry Holliday & crew), would prevent any information about investigations from becoming public unless open records requests are filed or subpoenas received. An about-face to Steve Beshear’s (you already knew it wasn’t based in reality) transparency promises.

New proposals would also dismiss — with prejudice — anonymous complaints and discard them with no action. Even if the complaints are credible, contain information that puts the state at risk or information that should be referred to law enforcement.

Here are excerpts from an EPSB flow chart we’ve received:

EPSB receives a complaint against a certificate holder. Complaint reviewed by legal staff to determine whether the complaint establishes an act prohibited by KRS 161.120(1)

Proposed change:

Within 30 days of receipt of a written complaint from an identified source, a three person disciplinary subcommittee comprising three K-12 members of the full EPSB will determine whether the complaint establishes an act prohibited by KRS 161.120(1). The disciplinary subcommittee members will be appointed by the chair and will serve one (1) year terms. At least two members of the disciplinary subcommittee will be classroom teacher representatives who are not administrators. The committee should strive to reach consensus on each case but may decide to act by majority vote of its members. General counsel may advise the subcommittee at its request but cannot vote.

Anonymous complaints will not be processed and will be dismissed with prejudice.

Rationale:

More than one person should be involved in vetting complaints to determine whether they move forward through the disciplinary process. Anonymous complaints cannot be verified and should not be processed or used to bolster any future complaints.

This means almost no complaints will be filed against people like Joshua Powell for fear of retaliation. It puts potential complainants at serious economic and potentially physical risk.

Other than the information contained in the board minutes, no information about suspension or revocation will be made available by any means other than a properly tendered Open Records request or valid subpoena.

Provided rationale:

There is no benefit to the EPSB or to the public in affirmatively publishing disciplinary information without an appropriate Open Records Request. If a certificate is suspended or revoked, it simply should not be accessible in the KECI database for the period of suspension or revocation. Once the respondent completes the period of suspension, the certificate will be automatically reinstated and should be restored to KECI without any mark, since the discipline meted out by the board will have been satisfied. If an application for reinstatement after revocation is successful, the certificate should simply reappear on KECI and no mark should appear for the same reason.

And that part? Keeping serious disciplinary action SECRET? To go along with the already seriously lacking level of transparency from EPSB meetings?

Those excerpts are from a document circulated by the previously mentioned EPSB members. It was created by Mary Ruble, Assistant Executive Director at the Kentucky Education Association (helllooo, meta data), and is set to be considered during the board’s July 20 retreat.

This is why Kentucky kids can’t have nice things. It’s why education in the Commonwealth is a nightmare.