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Teachers Union Blasts State Board's Decision to Force Out Education Commissioner

Just days after Gov. Matt Bevin appointed seven new members to the Kentucky Board of Education, a special meeting was called.

In an executive session, the board forced Education Commission Stephen Pruitt to resign.

Pruitt was replaced by University of Kentucky associate professor Wayne Lewis, noted for his staunch support of charter schools.

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The Kentucky Education Association, the union representing teachers in the state, criticized the move.

“Despite the outcry of tens of thousands of Kentuckians, today Governor Matt Bevin continued his offensive against public education, this time through proxies and behind closed doors,” said KEA president Stephanie Winkler. “Dr. Stephen Pruitt has been a strong and effective champion for our students and public schools.  Forcing an honorable and highly qualified man to resign from his position without any cause is contrary to the best interests of students across the Commonwealth. Unlike our Governor, Commissioner Pruitt made great strides in transparency and accessibility—every administrator, board member and educator knew he was just a phone call away.”  

Pruitt was appointed commission in October 2015.

Lewis, meanwhile, has more than 15 years of experience in public education, serving professionally in public school districts, higher education institutions, and state government. He has served as an advisor to the Kentucky Board of Education, the Education & Workforce Secretary’s Designee on Kentucky’s Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC), and chair of Kentucky’s Charter Schools Advisory Council. His research, writing and teaching encompass the areas of education policy and politics, human capital, and human resources management in education organizations, a news release said.

“I am incredibly humbled and excited to serve the Commonwealth in this position, and pledge to work every day on behalf of all the students and families across Kentucky," Lewis said. “We need to refocus the conversation on kids and on improving education for them. Our children need to be our number one priority.”

Lewis completed an undergraduate degree in criminal justice at Loyola University New Orleans. He earned a master’s degree in urban studies with a concentration in public administration at the University of Akron, and a Ph.D. in educational research and policy analysis with a cognate in public administration at North Carolina State University. He serves on the ministerial team at Wesley United Methodist Church in Lexington and is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.

Lewis is a native of New Orleans, LA, and has called Kentucky his home since 2009.

-Staff report

Photo: Stephen Pruitt (provided)