LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fayette County Public Schools (FCPS) is seeking an opinion from the Kentucky Attorney General on whether board of education chair Tyler Murphy has a conflict of interest following his election to a national teachers group board of directors.
During a board of education work session Thursday, former board chairwoman and current board member Stephanie Spires brought up the potential conflict of interest.
She suggested Murphy resign immediately if he’s unwilling to leave the National Education Association’s board. She feels it’s a conflict because Murphy’s role leading the county’s board of education could conflict with positions taken by the NEA.
Spires says the move appears to be a violation of the National School Board Associations’ Code of Ethics and the Kentucky School Board Associations’s Code of Ethics.
Spires also questioned Murphy’s honesty.
“This may be an honest mistake and oversight on your part, but Mr. Murphy, over the past two years, you have lied to and misled your board colleagues on multiple occasions. In an email I sent to you on March 4th, I stated, ‘Your dishonesty and manipulation continue to be a distraction and a challenge to the work of this Board and Fayette County,'” Spires said.
“I do not serve on any type of entity or a government committee or organization or politically appointed role or position. And again, I’m open to any discussion from anybody on the role and how we appropriately balance that and make sure there is transparency and accountability. All I can do today is give my assurance one, to our board team and two, to our community, that my number one commitment is serving the children and families of Fayette County Public Schools,” said Murphy.
Spires also raised concerns that Murphy campaigned for the NEA spot on his position as chair of the board of education and accepted financial donations. Spires wondered if Murphy accepted any donations from potential candidates for the vacant superintendent’s position in Fayette County, their families, or family members of FCPS employees or contractors looking to do business with the district. Murphy didn’t list any of his donors on his NEA campaign website, which he took down during the work session.
Murphy says he will share the donor information on the website and with fellow board of education members.
Spires says she’s concerned potential superintendent candidates won’t consider Fayette County because of the influence the teacher’s associations have on the school district. Murphy is a teacher in Boyle County who is a strong supporter of the Fayette County Education Association and the Kentucky Education Association.
Spires says she supports the Fayette County Education Association and the district’s teachers, but the board of education members are elected to represent the people in the county, not just the teachers.
She also asked for clarification on the role of the Fayette County Education Association, the Kentucky Education Association, and the Kentucky Education Support Professionals Association’s in his campaign for the NEA position.
Lisa Deffendall, spokesperson for Fayette County Public Schools, says the district’s legal counsel, Shelley Chatfield, will take the conflict of interest question to the attorney general immediately.
To view the Fayette County Board of Education’s work session, click here.