LRSD advisory group calls for replacing Education Commissioner Johnny Key | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, April 28, 2016

LRSD advisory group calls for replacing Education Commissioner Johnny Key

Posted By on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 at 11:02 PM

click to enlarge AGAINST KEY: Anika Whitfield makes a motion calling for the Education Commissioner's replacement.
  • AGAINST KEY: Anika Whitfield makes a motion calling for the Education Commissioner's replacement.

The Civic Advisory Committee of the Little Rock School District tonight approved a resolution calling for the replacement of Education Commissioner Johnny Key, a halt to charter school expansions in the city and waivers to state education law, and a return of the district to local control. 

The vote was a symbolic one. The CAC is an advisory group that was set up by the state Board of Education last year after that body authorized the state to take over the LRSD in January 2015. The state board created the CAC to act as a liaison between it and the community, but the group is vested with no real power aside from giving a venue to community voices.

Those voices tonight were calling for Gov. Hutchinson to get rid of Key, who set off a torrent of criticism when the news broke last week that he had he fired LRSD Superintendent Baker Kurrus. The motion was made by Dr. Anika Whitfield and gained the approval of all those present, including Dionne Jackson and former LRSD school board president Greg Adams (the co-chairs of the CAC). Little Rock City Directors Kathy Webb and BJ Wyrick also supported Whitfield's motion.

Note that the motion did not call directly for the reinstatement of Kurrus as superintendent. Although the circumstances of the firing have provided a moment of rare unity for education advocates in Little Rock, not everyone wants to make "bring back Kurrus" the rallying cry moving forward.

"I think it was wonderful teamwork. There are people who certainly feel differently about what happened, as far as how it relates to Baker. ... But I think everyone was able to agree that it should not be about the person," Whitfield said later in the evening. "It should be about making sure the process was fair and the community is engaged."

"What happened was basically dictatorship," she said, adding that Key's announcement of Kurrus' replacement, former Bentonville Superintendent Michael Poore, "just came out of the blue. There was no conversation with the CAC about putting another superintendent in, about a superintendent search. ...  There was nothing from the state Board of Education or Johnny Key that this was in the works, so all of us were caught off guard. There was no direct communication. All that is very disappointing, because we were supposed to be the liaison between the community and the Department of Education. It's difficult to advise if you're not invited to the table."

Whitfield emphasized that the motion tonight was not intended to undermine the incoming superintendent. "Our committee is not against Poore. We're against the process of how it happened. The way that it happened was unacceptable."

As for Key, however, "we strongly feel that it is time for him to go."
 
The Civic Advisory Committee may not be around much longer, as Key has said he intends to expedite the process of appointing a different body, a "Community Advisory Board," the creation of which is mandated under state law after a district has been taken over by the state. The CAC, in contrast, was solely a construction of the state board in the context of the LRSD takeover. Unsurprisingly for a body formed under such a vague and tenuous mandate, it has struggled to find its purpose this past year — and according to Whitfield, has largely been ignored by the education commissioner. 

Whenever it's created, the Community Advisory Board will have slightly more power than the existing CAC and will gradually accrue additional responsibility as the district proceeds towards an exit from takeover. The idea is that a Community Advisory Board transitions gradually towards elections and full autonomy. Whitfield said the CAC hasn't been told by the commissioner when its successor body will be formed, nor how the selection process will occur. But Key will presumably be the one naming its members.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • IHOP coming down, but .....

    I always scan the Little Rock City Board for items of interest this week and this one caught my eye: A zoning measure required by a proposal to tear down the IHOP at Markham and University.
    • Apr 30, 2016
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes White House press secretary

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, daughter of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, is the new White House press secretary.
    • Jul 21, 2017
  • LR speakers blast state board for double standard

    A series of speakers, beginning with Sen. Joyce Elliott, denounced what they saw as a hidden agenda favoring charter schools at the state Department of Education and asked the state Board of Education for return of local control.
    • May 12, 2016

Most Shared

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Campus carry rules approved

    • doigotta Not a surprise that you might identify with bigoted cultural profiling. That superior position…

    • on December 17, 2017
  • Re: Campus carry rules approved

    • baked needs a ladder for some of these posts since it's over his head anyway…

    • on December 17, 2017
  • Re: The Truth is Out There Open Line

    • Roy Moore, from tsallenarng above: ""I also wanted to let you know that this battle…

    • on December 17, 2017

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation