Beshear says he will interview candidate for state school board as Republicans criticize delay
Republican challenger Daniel Cameron, left, and other Republicans are criticizing Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear for appointing no one to two expired terms on the state school board. (Photos by Austin Anthony, Getty Images)
Facing criticism from Republicans, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said he anticipates making an appointment to the Kentucky Board of Education “in the short term.”
The remarks come after a Tuesday Courier-Journal report that showed the terms of two state school board members expired more than a year ago. The Republican Party of Kentucky is calling on the governor to fill the seats by Wednesday, May 31.
During his weekly news conference, Beshear said he will interview “someone that has been highly recommended” soon. The state constitution allows board members to serve until they are replaced, the governor added.
“Now, I know where this is coming from, and as governor, I don’t answer to either political party. I answer to the people of Kentucky. And appointments to the Kentucky Board of Education are not and will never be political,” Beshear said. “In fact, the law used to say that you couldn’t look at someone’s party. All you had to look at were their qualifications. When that was changed by the legislature, we have followed that law.”
State Republican Party Chairman Mac Brown penned a letter to Beshear on Wednesday, calling on the governor to follow the law and make the appointments.
“Governor Beshear, I ask you to set aside partisanship and abide by the law,” Brown wrote. “It is crucial that you fulfill your legal obligation to make appointments that align with the voter registration of our state, instead of playing politics with a board that oversees the education of our children.
“I respectfully request you comply with the law by May 31. I’d be happy to send you a list of Republicans if you’re having trouble finding one.”
The Courier-Journal article said at least one of the two seats should be filled by a Republican to satisfy requirements. The two seats must be filled by women and one seat by a person who is of a racial minority.
The back and forth between the governor and top Republicans comes as focus on the oversight of the Kentucky Department of Education has become a campaign issue in the gubernatorial election.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron, the Republican nominee for governor, said in a statement that Beshear has a “willingness to play politics” when it comes to education.
“As Makenze (Cameron) and I talk to parents across the commonwealth they’ve repeatedly expressed concerns to us about Andy Beshear’s willingness to play politics with the education of our children,”Cameron said. “As Governor, I will eliminate politics from the classroom and follow the law as written. I’ll appoint a board of education that represents the values of the men, women, and children of Kentucky’s 120 counties.”
Republican Senate President Robert Stivers issued a similar comment, saying that Beshear is acting “purely political” and criticized the governor for replacing all the members of the board in 2019 and the appointment of Education Commissioner Jason Glass.
Glass was hired by the Board of Education in July 2020.
Cameron has previously expressed that he would like to see Glass removed from his position.
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