Saturday, June 30, 2007

Wholesale Changes at KDE in advance of Erwin arrival

Mark Hebart, at the recently renamed WHAS11 Political Blog, picked up on the rapid fire changes occurring at the Kentucky Department of Education in advance of Barbara Erwin's arrival with his post...

Wholesale Changes at KDE
Kentucky's new Education Commissioner will be surrounded by a bunch of new hires at the top when she takes over the reins of the Kentucky Education Department in July.

One Deputy Commissioner and three Associate Commissioners have quit and been replaced.
In addition, Raviya Ismail at the Herald-Leader added some reaction from state school folks that echoes my own reaction, and I suspect, will represent the general sentiment.
"By and large, the decision to bring in people with district-level experience is going to be very well received," said Brad Hughes, spokesman for the Kentucky School Boards Association.

Hughes said he is not familiar with Spugnardi's work, but said Farris, Stinson and Draut are very well respected in the state.
Ditto. I worked directly with Elaine Farris for a few years in Fayette County and can vouch for her abilities. And, I am familiar with Draut and Stinson, by their good reputations.

Roger Marcum, superintendent for the Marion County school district and the president of the state's superintendent association, said the recent appointments could help Erwin win praise.

"We're far enough along in Kentucky reform that we've got a lot of folks with expertise that have been a part of this since 1990 that can certainly be an asset to Commissioner Erwin and the entire department of education," Marcum said.

Erwin can use all the assets she can get
The competent new Deputy and Associates could serve to soften the on-going controversy over Erwin's still unexplained resume errors and the general outcry from critics in other districts she has led - and here in Kentucky. (Including the Courier-Journal, the Herald-Leader, the News-Enterprise, the Family Foundation, the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky School News and Commentary, KET’s “Comment on Kentucky” host Al Smith, Richmond columnist Don McNay, Kentucky Progress blog, and Kentucky Women: Power, Passion and Politics blog...)
-- As an applicant, Erwin claimed she presented at the Triple I conference in Illinois in 2006. She didn’t.
-- She said she served on the American Association of School Administrators Executive Committee for ten years. She didn’t. It was three.
-- She told the state board she had never been involved in litigation, or pressured to leave. Wrong again. She was being sued by one of her board members in the federal case Schild v. Erwin, when she left Scottsdale for St Charles.
-- She told her current school board in St Charles, Illinois that “in good faith” she would serve until August 4th well after she knew her term in Kentucky would begin on July 16th.
-- The search firm Ray & Associates told the board she had solved a persistent mold problem in a St Charles high School. Not true. The problem had been solved a full six months before her arrival.
-- And that doesn’t even count a groundswell of concern raised in four different states over her temperament in office, a handful of other typos and misstatements, or the fact that a state’s attorney in Illinois recently issued penalties for willful violations of the Open Meetings Act in her current district.
The Kentucky Board of Education has reacted (at least, publicly) as though nothing's amiss. They took no positive action during their June meeting (without Erwin in attendance). If the same thing occurs in July, (with Erwin present) the blame for an absolute lack of due diligence will no longer be the fault of the search firm. It will rest on the board.
So OK...KDE's got some good folks coming on board who may be able to help - regardless of what else happens.
But here's what I can't figure out. Just how did these hires occur?
The Herald-Leader reported the resignations of three of the folks on June 7th - and replacements were announced on June 29th. That's less than 30 days, the typical requirement for job postings. Barbara Erwin isn't set to begin before July 13th. So I'm just wondering...
Were the jobs posted? (I'm not sure KDE falls under the same regulation as school districts.)
If so when, and for how many days?
If not, why not?
Who selected the successful successful candidates?
Who acted (signed off on) on their hiring?
If not Dr. Erwin, was she consulted during the selection process?


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