Jefferson County Public Schools will challenge the recommended state takeover, the Jefferson County Board of Education unanimously voted Tuesday evening.

The board will request a hearing in front of the Kentucky Board of Education, which has the final vote over whether JCPS will be taken over by the state. The district has a minimum of 20 days to prepare its case, with June 20 being the earliest a hearing could happen.

“One of the things that is clear to us as the board is that we were elected through a democratic process,” JCBE chairwoman Diane Porter said before making a motion to request a hearing. “The second thing that is clear to the board is that we have been able to function well under local decision-making and that we would like to move forward with that.”

Wayne Lewis

In a hearing, JCPS will have a chance to challenge interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis’ takeover recommendation, most likely arguing that the district needs state assistance instead of state management. In past management or assistance recommendations, KBE has never disagreed with the commissioner’s decision.

Last month, Lewis recommended that the state take over JCPS, concluding a 14-month management audit. In a 16-page letter to JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio and JCBE Chairwoman Diane Porter, Lewis outlined a myriad concerns, including student equity, student restraint and seclusion and not having enough funding to fix facility needs.

Instead of appointing a state manager to oversee the district, Lewis recommended that Pollio maintain control of daily operations, as long as he reports to Assistant Commissioner Kelly Foster weekly. The locally elected JCBE, which currently has final say over most things in the district, would be reduced to an advisory role.

Bluegrass Institute President Jim Waters speaks to reporters. | Photo by Olivia Krauth

In the weeks before and after the recommendation, opponents and proponents of a takeover have spoken out. Former JCPS officials contacted Lewis to push for a takeover. Multiple groups including the Bluegrass Institute and Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition, which has ties to KBE chairman Milton Seymore, also spoke out in favor of a takeover.

Parents and community members have mobilized against a takeover since before the official recommendation. In the weeks after the recommendation, the effort has sped up with over 9,400 people signing a #OurJCPS petition opposing the takeover.  

This post will be updated.