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McCracken County Board Of Education Chair Resigns, New Chair Elected

Liam Niemeyer

The McCracken County Public Schools Board of Education chair resigned from his position before a vote in a special called meeting Thursday to decide whether he should be removed as chair.

Board Chair Steve Shelby said he doesn’t want to resign, but he said the intention of other board members who called the meeting is clear to him. Shelby will remain on the board as a member.

“The most important thing is that we move forward. There has been a lot of distractions in the last few months,” Shelby said. “Our educators have had it on track. We’ve got to get it back going.”

This move follows a string of criminal investigations into and charges against several school district employees, a volunteer coach and a high school student. These charges stem from alleged inappropriate contact with minor students and the alleged failure of some school district employees to report said contact.

Charges against the McCracken County High School Principal and the Director of Pupil Personnel, related to the alleged failure to report inappropriate contact to authorities, have since been dropped.

Immediately after Shelby’s resignation, the school board called for an election for a new chair. Shelby nominated board member Kelly Walker, and board member Melanie Burkeen nominated board member Chris Taylor. Taylor was elected as the new chair on a 3-2 vote.

The three board members who called the special meeting to potentially remove Shelby -- Chris Taylor, Tiffany Watson and Melanie Burkeen -- also voted in favor of the new leadership in Taylor.

Burkeen said she appreciates the contributions Shelby brings to the board, but she said the new leadership will help move the school district past recent controversy.

“There are some things that [Shelby] has very strong suits about, but sometimes, not everything is communicated to all board members because we see things differently,” Burkeen said. “It’s a good time for a change.”

After the special called meeting was adjourned, a second special meeting was called by Shelby to consider whether to dissolve the vacant assistant superintendent position left when Health Cartwright was promoted to interim superintendent, following the resignation of former superintendent Brian Harper.

There wasn’t support among the majority of the board to dissolve the position, so the second meeting was also adjourned.

"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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