Wednesday, August 08, 2007

C-J: Chairman of the Kentucky Board of Education ousted

This from Antoinette Konz at the Courier-Journal.

The Kentucky Board of Education ousted chairman Keith Travis this morning, replacing him with Joe Brothers on a 10-1 vote.

Travis was the only member opposing the change in chairmen.

The vote comes in the wake of the aborted hiring of Illinois educator Barbara Erwin, who quit three days before she was to begin the commissioner's job after a series of revelations about her background.

Travis has criticized the search firm involved in that process, but other board members said that a lack of leadership was partly to blame for the flawed search.

Bonnie Lash Freeman, who led the search committee for a new commissioner, will continue as vice chairman of the board.

The board's nominating committee met at 8 a.m. and went into closed session for about 20 minutes before returning with the recommendations. Board member David Rhodes, who serves on the nominating committee, said there were no other recommendations to consider.

At the beginning of the board's regular meeting at 9 a.m., Brothers took over his new role.

Travis, who had served as chairman for three years, is in his 10th year on the state board of education. He said he was “a little surprised” that he did not receive a nomination to return as chairman for a fourth year.“I did not solicit or poll members,” he said. “So I really didn’t know how they would vote.”

Travis said the failed search for a new commissioner likely played a role in the board’s decision not to re-elect him.

Board member Doug Hubbard has said in previous interviews with The Courier-Journal that he felt a new chairman was needed.

Travis said he accepts responsibility for the “circumstances the board engaged in” with regards to the commissioner search.

Brothers applauded Travis’ work as chairman shortly after he took over the role. “I greatly respect the opportunity to serve,” he said. “I have no agenda, other than the kids of Kentucky.”

In terms of looking for its next commissioner, Brothers said, “This board will leave no stone unturned until we find a commissioner that is worthy of our state.”

Gov. Ernie Fletcher said he supported the board’s decision.“I know Joe Brothers. … He’s got a great reputation of being passionate about education and a good record on leadership,” Fletcher told reporters as he left the Capitol for a speech in Bowling Green.He noted that he had appointed both Brothers and Travis to the board.The governor commended Travis for his service as chairman. Asked if he believed the board wanted a change after Travis’ oversight of the failed search for a commissioner, Fletcher said, “I think the change is a natural progression. You’re going to change the chair every so often.”

The governor said he was contacted recently by some board members and asked if he thought Brothers would be a good chairman.“I said, of course, Joe Brothers could do a good job,” he said.

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