Superintendent ousted, controversy surrounds Clark County BOE decision

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CLARK COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – With a divided 3-2 Board of Education vote Monday night, Clark County Superintendent Paul Christy is out after eight years on the job.

Some current and former board members were critical of Christy for keeping students learning online when other districts returned to the classroom.

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His dismissal left some people in the community with questions.

“I think the million dollar question is, why,” Heather Penichet said. “We don’t understand that and, unfortunately, the three board members who made the decision of non-renewal have not been very public in their reasoning why.”

Penichet has lived in Clark County all her life and has had three kids graduate from the public school system.

In addition to the dismissal, she said she was concerned to learn from Christy that one of the board members who voted to get rid of him has never had training on evaluations, ethics or finances.

“Are they qualified to actually provide those services to the community,” Penichet asked.

She said another concern is new board member Brenda Considine, who voted to get rid of Christy, despite spending 32 years in public education, hasn’t worked in the district for years and just drew on past experiences to make her decision.

In an email to ABC 36 News, Considine said:

“My non-renewal vote was based on a variety of reasons which didn’t necessarily include the delay of returning to face-to-face instruction. My concerns for the district center around a focus on academics and the potential for increasing the content gaps brought on by the pandemic. Developing extensive plans on how the district will recover academically should be the critical focus for the next three years. Utilizing the ESSER funding at the school level to close academic gaps that developed during the pandemic should take top priority.  her decision, “didn’t necessarily include the delay of returning to face-to-face instruction. My concerns for the district center around a focus on academics and the potential for increasing the content gaps brought on by the pandemic.

I retired from the Clark County Public Schools after 32 years and I did rely on my experience to make an informed decision about the future of the district.”

In response to her decision not to renew Christy, new board member Megan Hendricks said:

“As it relates to the pandemic, I think the biggest issue was his refusal to communicate with the public or the Clark County School Board on the issue. I was disappointed by Mr. Christy’s failure to consistently communicate to the School Board or the public his re-opening plans, instead he insisted on providing his plans minutes before a scheduled meeting with no real opportunity for review or input.”

Board member Bill Taulbee refutes that. He voted to keep Christy and said did a great job and kept everyone safe while doing so.

“I believe from what I’ve seen on social media, from what I’ve received personally in email and text messages, this does not represent the community – what the community wants and actually deserves,” Taulbee said.

Christy said he’s not surprised by the decision. He said in February, a former board member told him the three board members who voted to get rid of him had already made up their minds.

Christy said he has the messages to prove it. He said it’s another concerning aspect of the board’s vote.

“To know that the vast majority of the people in the community supported what we did is humbling,” Christy said.

Board of Education Chair Ashley Ritchie joined Taulbee in voting to keep Christy on. He will be out at the end of this year.

Penichet encourages concerned community members to contact the Office of Education Accountability to look into the board’s decision and any possible violations.