Tuesday, July 05, 2011

OEA Recommends Removal of Bath Co Board Chair

The Kentucky Office of Educational Accountability has recommended Bath County Board of Education Chairman Bill Boyd be removed from office.

The report states that “Boyd has, by his actions, violated Board policy and statutory provisions of law.”

In its conclusions the reports says that the “OEA is referring this case to the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) for resolution or removal of Mr. Boyd from the Bath County Board of Education.”

The investigation began on April 13 when the OEA paid a visit to theBathCountySchool Districtand interviewed Boyd and the other members of the Board of Education, Supt. Nancy Hutchinson, and other district personnel.

At the time the investigation began, Boyd said that he was aware that the OEA was asking school district employees whether he and other school board members were colluding with one another outside of meetings and without the knowledge of other school board members.

The report lists eight allegations against Boyd:
1) He failed to perform the duty of evaluating the superintendent;
2) he interfered with personnel matters and the day to day operation of the school district;
3) he violated Board Policy regarding the calling of special meetings;
4) he violated the open meeting law by polling Board members through email;
5) he violated the open meeting law by taking action during closed sessions;
6) he violated Board Policy by making Open Records requests and then refusing to pay for copies of the records;
7) he violated Board Policy regarding Board member expense reimbursement; and
8) he violated statute and Board Policy by acting independently of the Board.

Boyd’s actions have already been investigated twice while a member of the Board.

A December 2009 report found that Boyd had both violated his oath as a Board member as well as the Open Meetings Act and directed him to seek training to help him understand his duties and limitations as a Board member.

According to the report, “Mr. Boyd refused to accept the findings of the OEA and refused to attend the required training.”

It further states, “Mr. Boyd refused to even acknowledge that he may have made a mistake.”

A second report was issued in September 2010 regarding Boyd’s efforts to get a water fountain installed at the football field in July 2009.

He was not found in violation because he admitted he was unaware that there was an approval process for installing the water fountain.

This latest investigation is focused largely on Boyd’s actions from December 2010 through April of this year.

Its gives an interesting behind-the-scenes look into the day-to-day politics of the Bath County School Board.

The first allegation states that Boyd refused to participate in any of the required job evaluations for Supt. Hutchinson from the time he took office in January 2009.

Boyd and board member B. A. Franklin have stated on numerous occasions that they felt that their evaluations would be perceived as biased.

Boyd replied to this allegation by stating that “I campaigned on a platform that emphasized making changes for improvement including replacing the superintendent, and believe she should be replaced, and believe she should not have been hired in the first place.”

The second allegation focuses on Boyd’s attempts to “get rid of” Asst. Supt. and Personnel Director Steve Meadows.

The report states that Boyd attempted on numerous occasions to obtain information regarding Meadows’ qualifications and pay increases. It also stated that Boyd made no secret of his desire to replace Meadows.

“The authority to hire and fire personnel is reserved to the superintendent pursuant to KRS 160.380(2)(a),” according to the report, not school board members.

Boyd noted, “Since I do not know of any board action creating the position of personnel director or assistant superintendent I requested proof.”

The third allegation concerns the special called meeting of the Board on March 15.

Boyd provided a notice to a local newspaper that did not contain the place meeting place or the agenda.

To this allegation, Boyd said, “I did tell Chris Bailey that we were going to have a special called meeting. I do not know of any law or procedure that prevents me from telling a friend that we are going to have a meeting. It did not contain any agenda, time or place and was not a formal notice and therefore was not a violation of anything.”

The fourth allegation deals with Boyd’s attempt to obtain approval from Board members through email to assign work to then recently-hired Board attorney David Barber in February.

The report also stated that Boyd regularly conferred with board members B. A. Franklin and Hurschell Rawlings outside of board meetings and did not communicate with Sandy Crouch and Lisa McFarland.

“Mr. Franklin, Mr. Rawlings and I have never discussed anything we were going to vote on. I have not had any informational communications with Sandy Crouch and Lisa McFarland because they are hostile towards me,” Boyd said about this allegation.

The fifth allegation states that Boyd asked Attorney Barber during a closed session of the Board in March about investigating the possibility of buying out Supt. Hutchinson’s contract.

This request was not mentioned in the meeting minutes nor approved in open session.

Boyd said that he does not remember this taking place but does not deny it.

The sixth allegation notes that Boyd has on numerous occasions refused to pay for copies from the Board of Education office since becoming a Board member.

To this allegation, Boyd responded, “All of my copy requests since becoming a board member have been for legitimate government purposes and a board members public function, not as a citizen making a request under the open records act. I’m not an attorney, and am no expert on case law, but I believe that a request made by a board member acting as stated above is not subject to charge.”

The seventh allegation states that Boyd attended a Kentucky School Board Association Conference in Louisville in December 2010 with Hurschell Rawlings without prior Board approval for the expenses.

Boyd said in response to this allegation that he had expected the conference to be on the December Board agenda but that it was not, and that the trip was approved at the January meeting.

The final allegation notes several instances in which Boyd acted independently of the Board and without Board authorization.

In February, Supt. Hutchinson was directed by Boyd to place advertising for a new board attorney and was informed by Boyd that “we already have an attorney David Barber.”

Boyd chastised her two days later for not placing the ad and for seeking guidance in hiring a new attorney.

Boyd said that he did not make the statement about attorney Barber to Hutchinson.

On March 22, the Board voted to rescind two contract extensions granted to Supt. Hutchinson, form a search committee, and hire the Kentucky School Board Association to assist in hiring a new superintendent.

Two days later, Boyd emailed the superintendent and other board members informing them that the KSBA would not be participating in the search and that the board would proceed without them.

In the April Board meeting Boyd made two motions related to the search for a new superintendent which failed, including a motion to place an ad soliciting applications. On May 2, Boyd submitted the advertisement to a local newspaper. Boyd also rented a post office box in which to receive applications.

On May 3, Boyd contacted the president of the Bath County Education Association and directed her to hold an election for teachers to be on the superintendent screening committee.

Boyd noted about these instances that he was merely proceeding on the assumption that the search for a superintendent needed to continue.

The report also notes that Boyd met with or contacted the Board attorney privately on at least three occasions in March 2011 and that the content of these conversations was not shared with the Board for their approval or information. Attorney Barber submitted a bill for these services.

“As for my calling the board attorney we are having quite a bit of controversy. If there is something wrong with this please let me know. I want to comply with all laws and procedures,” Boyd said.

When the News Outlook contacted Boyd about the report, he provided a letter which was emailed to Marcia Ford Seiler, OEA Director, following the preliminary investigation of May 16.

In the email, Boyd concluded “I want to point out that this report has been biased. It is worded throughout in a manner which will place me in a bad light. It is written in a manner used by prosecutors and policemen who are trying to build a court case that will result in a conviction. As any educated person knows how you word a report or article will determine the readers’ reaction. It should be fair and unbiased but it is not. The following information makes your point for you if one wants to look at it from your perspective, instead of looking at it as trying to accomplish something positive, and providing leadership that will provide a better education for the children.

“I have tried to bring improvements to this district. I have challenged everyone to move this district from the lower twenty five percent of districts to the upper twenty five percent within ten years. You may call that acting independent of the rest of the board, but I call it leadership. I also have called for a district planning meeting when we get a new superintendent on board, to develop a new educational model that will incorporate the recommendations of the governors task force, and the core content requirements and move us rapidly forward in academic achievement.”

Board attorney David Barber’s office was also contacted about the report, but he had not replied at the time this newspaper went to press.


Anonymous said...

Hi Richard- Do we know what the status is for the lawsuit the superintendent filed against the school board?

Richard Day said...

Yes, but I haven't been able to get around to writing it.


I've been looking at the Court of Appeals minutes every couple of weeks and don't think I have missed anything on Hurley-Richards...but I could have. There are at least two pending suits, both related to students; one on appeal.

Anonymous said...

Bath County lawsuit filed by superintednet.

Anonymous said...

Boyd should not be serving on this board, does not represent the children of this school district!