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Lawrence County Superintendent Robbie Fletcher new Kentucky education commissioner

Lexington Herald-Leader
Lawrence County Superintendent Robbie Fletcher has been selected as the next Kentucky education commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education officials said Thursday.

For the first time under a new state law backed by Republican lawmakers, the 2024 Kentucky Senate will be asked to approve the new commissioner.

Fletcher would replace Jason Glass who said in August 2023 he was resigning the job and leaving the state because he didn’t want to enforce the “dangerous and unconstitutional” Republican-sponsored Senate Bill 150 that critics called an anti-LGBTQ+ measure.

GOP lawmakers and politicians had called for Glass’ ouster over the department’s inclusive LGBTQ+ stances.

The commissioner of education is the chief state school officer who oversees daily operations of the Kentucky Department of Education and acts as superintendent of the Kentucky School for the Blind, the Kentucky School for the Deaf and the 50 area technology centers.

Like Fletcher, the other two finalists for commissioner, Buddy Berry and Jim Flynn, work in Kentucky.

Berry is the Eminence Independent Superintendent. Flynn is the executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents and former Simpson County Superintendent.

Both finalists told the Herald-Leader this week prior to the KDE announcement that they were not hired as commissioner.

Fletcher has been the superintendent of Lawrence County Schools since July 2014.

He was a part-time faculty member at Asbury University, and principal, assistant principal and a mathematics teacher in Martin County, KDE officials said.

Fletcher earned a doctorate in education and a superintendency certification from Morehead State University, a master’s in supervision and administration from the University of Kentucky, and a bachelor’s in mathematics from Morehead State University.

The Kentucky Board of Education on Thursday conducted a special meeting to vote on the contract and name Fletcher.

Angela L. Billings, spokesperson for the Senate Majority Leadership, said “the commissioner will be confirmed through a Senate resolution like all other confirmations.”

She said Wednesday Senate leaders had already had some contact on the matter with KDE “through our policy staff.”

EPSB inquiry

Documents the Herald-Leader obtained under the Kentucky Open Records Act showed that in 2019, the Education Professional Standards Board voted to dismiss a case against Fletcher involving school grounds grass mowing bids.

He told the EPSB in a letter that in the violation of a procurement code case, the Lawrence County school board voted to enter into a mowing contract without his recommendation.

Fletcher and another district employee took model procurement training in 2018 after the Kentucky Office of Education Accountability found the violation.

A separate EPSB case involving Fletcher involved the renewal of his teaching certificate, records show.

As part of his state certification renewal in 2020, Fletcher had to submit character and fitness documents. In a letter, he told the board that a former employee had alleged that the non-renewal of her contract was a violation of her rights, EPSB records show.

Fletcher said in the letter the district was reducing the number of special education teachers. He said that state child protection officials had substantiated a complaint against the teacher for neglect while performing her job duties as a teacher.

Documents show EPSB moved forward with renewing Fletcher’s state certification.

Fletcher did not immediately comment on either case.

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