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Kentucky judge blocks Senate bill limiting powers of JCPS Board

The district's lawsuit argued portions of SB1 were unconstitutional and a judge agreed.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A law that would have limited the powers of the Jefferson County Public School Board has been struck down by a Kentucky judge.

Senate Bill 1 would have taken power away from the board, giving it to the superintendent. It would have also limited board meetings to once a month and required a supermajority for some votes.

When the lawsuit was filed in June, board member Sarah McIntosh said the people of Jefferson County voted them into office, so lawmakers should not be able to take their powers away.

“Superintendents were being held accountable for principals they didn't have a hand in hiring," she said. “If they want to govern our local school board, maybe they need to run for that office instead."

Their lawsuit argued the law was unconstitutional when it singled out JCPS and Judge Charles Cunningham Jr. agreed.

Kentucky’s constitution prevents special legislation, where you would have laws that only apply to only one locality or entity – Jefferson County.

“The voters, parents, students and taxpayers of Jefferson County are entitled to equal protection under the law,” Judge Cunningham said in his decision. “In this context, the Commonwealth of Kentucky may not treat those folks arbitrarily.”

In a statement, board chair Diane Porter said she was pleased with the ruling.

This ruling confirms our assertion that parts of Senate Bill 1 unfairly and unconstitutionally singled out Jefferson County and would interfere with our ability to represent the interests of the citizens and students in our school district. Judge Cunningham’s words confirm the necessity of this lawsuit: 'These provisions are a significant transfer of power away from the Board and no member worthy of their position would acquiesce in such a transfer to the extent the General Assembly’s enactment was unconstitutional.’

With this distraction behind us, the board will continue to focus on the needs of every JCPS student as we prepare for the upcoming school year.”

A spokesperson for the Kentucky Department of Education said Commissioner Dr. Jason Glass appreciates the court weighing in and urges the General Assembly to consider the prohibition on special or local legislation moving forward.

Glass does not plan to appeal the decision.

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