Friday, March 19, 2004

Principal-hiring bill seems dead

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

FRANKFORT - In a victory for teacher unions, legislation to give school superintendents a veto in the hiring of principals apparently has been stifled.

The legislation was prompted by a Court of Appeals ruling that local school councils, which do the hiring and which are dominated by teachers, can consider all applicants and not just those screened and recommended by their superintendents.

The procedure had been for the superintendent to send a small number of applicants for the council to consider. Before the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act, superintendents did the hiring and firing.

The ruling, which came in May, now is before the Kentucky Supreme Court. Superintendents have complained that their role would be little more than clerical without new legislation or a reversal by the higher court.

A bill passed by the Senate would require a superintendent to forward names of applicants to the school council, which then could ask for additional names. But it would forbid a principal being hired "without consent" of the superintendent.

The Kentucky Education Association and Jefferson County Teachers Association oppose it. Associations for superintendents, school boards and school administrators support it.

The chairman of the House Education Committee on Thursday allowed a hearing on the bill but not a vote.

KEA President Frances Steenbergen said the bill "diminishes the power of the council."

Rep. Harry Moberly, a member of the education committee, agreed that the Senate bill would erode a power that was "carefully crafted" in the 1990 reform act.

Superintendents have sought ever since to regain the power to hire principals but "that will never happen," said Moberly, D-Richmond.

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