UPDATE: Fayette school board responds to NAACP, other groups

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UPDATE POSTED 5:45 P.M. FEB. 4, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – In response to a press release early Thursday from the Fayette County chapter of the NAACP concerning the search for a new schools superintendent, the Fayette County Board of Education Chair Tyler Murphy issued a statement Thursday evening.

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It includes names of search committee appointments and other information.

The statement says:

“The Fayette County Board of Education appreciates the active interest being shown in the process of selecting the next FCPS superintendent by the NAACP and other community groups even before the search has begun. In fact, our board chair has communicated a commitment to ensuring as many voices as possible will be solicited, heard and valued during the search in a message to the Vice President and Education Chair of the NAACP.

Board members have had similar conversations and offers of support from other local advocacy organizations, business leaders, and elected officials. Public engagement is a top priority for our board members and must be the centerpiece of this search in order to ensure we find the right candidate for our district.

In 2015, more than 5,000 students, employees, families and community members participated in the superintendent search that led to the hiring of Manny Caulk, and our intention is to garner even higher numbers this time.

We recognize that COVID-19 will require us to reimagine some of the ways we gather public input and feedback, but based on the active community participation in principal selections since the pandemic began, we have started initial discussions about multiple avenues for widespread stakeholder involvement. Members of the equity office have been active in that brainstorming process, but since the search is not underway, no specifics have been determined.

Under state law, the seating of a Superintendent Screening Committee must happen within 30 days of a vacancy. Congratulations are in order for:

  • Parent Representative Thalethia Routt, who has two students in FCPS – one at Veterans Park Elementary and one at Henry Clay High. Routt is a member of the FCPS Equity Council who also serves as the Associate General Counsel at the University of Kentucky.
  • Certified Employee Representatives: Jennifer Bolander, who teaches special education at Henry Clay High School, and Jessica Hiler, Fayette County Education Association President
  • Classified Employee Representative: Kiyon Massey, Associate Director of Human Resources
  • Principal Representative: Matt Marsh, Sandersville Elementary School Principal

They will join Fayette County Board of Education Member Tom Jones, who was appointed by Fayette County Board of Education Chair Tyler Murphy to the committee. The nomination and election process is laid out in statute and includes provisions to ensure diversity if none of the members represent minority groups. This additional step will not be necessary as the nomination and election process yielded a diverse committee.

The committee will review applications for the superintendent vacancy and make recommendations to the Fayette County Board of Education. Before they can begin that work, the board will consider hiring a search firm or executive recruiter to help conduct a nationwide search.

FCPS issued a “Request for Proposals” on Jan. 12 and the window for submissions closed this week. In the RFP, the board specified they were looking for “an executive recruiter or firm to recruit a diverse field of candidates that mirrors the diversity of our student population” and included “a demonstrated record of presenting a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates” as part of the selection criteria.

Board members are reviewing proposals from seven firms and a work session will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 8, to review the proposals, interview firms and determine next steps.

We want to affirm the commitment of our entire board team to involve all stakeholders in this critical effort. Input from students, employees, families, and community members will be critical as we move ahead.

The public will have a voice in the development of a candidate profile through surveys and focus groups, and will have the opportunity to participate in the interview process before the board makes a final decision.

ORIGINAL STORY POSTED 8:15 A.M. THURSDAY, FEB. 4, 2021

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The Lexington-Fayette County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is calling on the Fayette County Public School Board to pause the search for a new superintendent.

According to a news release, the group first wants the board should consider the following:

1) Halting the Superintendent Search Committee process during the COVID-19 pandemic; OR
2) Postponing/extending the deadline to hire the next Superintendent to the 2022-2023 school year; OR
3) Conducting a “listening tour” across diverse communities in Fayette County before choosing the next Superintendent; OR
4) Hire/Contract with a local racial minority (African American) consultant that was directly involved with the district’s previous equity scorecard to advise the Superintendent Search Committee.

According to the local NAACP branch, the superintendent search process and final selection is an important equity issue for the Fayette County community and all attempts to include as many voices as possible in developing the “profile” for the next superintendent must be exercised and handled with the utmost urgency.

The group shared a lengthy letter outlining the last search process for a superintendent saying leaders within the Lexington NAACP along with other community leaders do not have confidence this process will include the voices of the community.

At the very least, the local branch is asking for the following characteristics to be included in the upcoming position announcement:

• “Candidates should be passionate about and experienced in consistently closing achievement gaps, communicating openly, providing support to classroom staff and allocating resources across the student population.”
• “Possess a proven track record of success as a superintendent in an urban school district.”
• “Implementing programs to close achievement gaps by focusing on the needs of all students.”
• “Be a proactive leader, focused on addressing accountability, student achievement gaps and equity.”

The Lexington-Fayette County NAACP normally meets the second Monday of the month at 6 P.M. at the Charles Young Center at 540 East Third Street in Lexington but due to the pandemic, the group is meeting virtually. For more information, click HERE.

Source: Lexington-Fayette County Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

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Erica joins the ABC 36 family as a Co-Anchor of Good Morning Kentucky weekday mornings from 5am-7am with Cody Adams and Good Day Kentucky weekday mornings from 9am to 10am. She is also a Web and Social Media Content Producer. Erica graduated in three and a half years from Michigan State University with a Bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism and specialization in Women, Gender and Social Justice. Although she hails from Michigan, Erica has worked as a News Reporter/Sports Anchor for the CBS-affiliate in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to that, she worked for a PBS-affiliate there covering all types of news – even providing live reports for The Weather Channel during her first hurricane. She then moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana and worked as the Weekend Anchor/Reporter at KPLC, the NBC/FOX/CW affiliate. Erica comes to Lexington from the Huntington area where she worked at WSAZ, an NBC/CW affiliate in West Virginia, as a weekday evening anchor covering the tri states of Ohio and Kentucky as well. In addition to her background on TV, Erica has worked in radio, served as the PA announcer for the Class A "Lansing Lugnuts" and hosted Carnival parades in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of her favorite hobbies include running, reading, hiking, spending time with her husband and taking pictures of their furbabies. Erica is big on community involvement, having served as a board member for Dress for Success, volunteered as a Big with Big Brothers Big Sisters, worked on the Mayor's Armed Forces Commission in Lake Charles and hosted countless events. She hopes you can connect with her on Facebook: EricaBivensTV and on Twitter: @ericabivens or Instagram: erica.bivens. You can also email her at ebivens@wtvq.com. Please send all event inquiries via email. Erica is excited to explore Lexington and the outdoors and - of course - meet all of you!