Education

Jefferson County Public Schools has responded to a settlement offer made by the Kentucky Department of Education regarding recommended state management, though the district isn’t releasing any information about the content of the response.

Interim Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis offered the settlement to JCPS last month, as a way for the district to avoid state management — which was recommended in an audit released this spring.

In the case of state management, JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio would be in charge of daily operations of the district and the elected Jefferson County school board would serve in an “advisory capacity.”

The district has been under scrutiny for years.

In 2016, former education commissioner Stephen Pruitt called for a review of JCPS’ management. A preliminary review found a lack of support for struggling schools, underreporting of student seclusion and restraint, and that black students lagged behind other students academically and got suspended more. JCPS is the state’s largest school district in the Commonwealth with approximately 100,000 students. Students of color make up more than half the district.

Pruitt later ordered an audit of JCPS. He was ousted in April after Governor Matt Bevin appointed seven new members to the state’s Board of Education, and Lewis was appointed to fill the role in the interim.

Shortly after, Lewis released an audit, in line with Pruitt’s initial findings, recommending state management of the district.  He wrote the findings of the audit “make it clear that for some time many children in JCPS have neither been protected nor served well.”

The Jefferson County school board appealed the recommendation in May, and multiple days of hearings have been scheduled for this fall.

On Monday evening, the Kentucky Department of Education confirmed JCPS had submitted a response to the state’s settlement offer.

“After more than three weeks, JCPS responded to the Kentucky Department of Education’s settlement offer on Friday,” a spokesperson wrote in a statement. “The Department responded on the same day and is yet to hear back. The Department continues to prepare for the hearing, which begins on September 10.”