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Additional Background Checks in State Education Commissioner Search

Kentucky Department of Education

  The Kentucky State Board of Education has narrowed the field of candidates for education commissioner down to two.

Board Chair Roger Marcum is hopeful the next commissioner can help build on the foundation of a quarter century of reforms. 

Under court order, Kentucky enacted the state Education Reform Act in 1990. Marcum says in addition to college readiness, deeper learning, critical thinking, and global competence are all important. 

“It’s taking us even further, so that’s gonna be a challenge and since we are expecting more of our educators and of our students, I think the relationship building piece of this is gonna be important for the next commissioner,” said Marcum.  

In 2007, then Illinois superintendent Barbara Erwin resigned just days before she was to start as Education Commissioner in Kentucky after media reports about the integrity of her resume, among other concerns.  Marcum says they want to sidestep a repeat of the situation in 2007. 

“It makes it more difficult I think when those kind of things happen to find a qualified person and causes embarrassment," he said. "We want to avoid that if we possibly can.”

Marcum says the additional background checks will cost about $10,000 and that the names of the two front-runners will not be released prior to making the hire.

“If something disqualifies one of those people because of that background check, don’t see a need to embarrass that person or it would be embarrassing to the board or the state," said Marcum. "What we’re focusing on is making sure we hire the right person to be the commissioner.”

Board General Counsel Kevin Brown is serving as interim commissioner following Terry Holliday’s retirement this week.  

Additional background checks will be conducted over the next couple of weeks.  Marcum hopes to have a new commissioner named before the end of the month.  

Stu Johnson is a reporter/producer at WEKU in Lexington, Kentucky.
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