School boards could evaluate superintendents behind closed doors, under a bill the Kentucky House approved today 67-29. Senate Bill 178 amends KRS 156.557 to require "any preliminary discussions relating to the evaluation of the superintendent by the board or between the board and the superintendent prior to the summative evaluation shall be conducted in closed session." Evaluations would still be presented in an open meeting. The bill, which goes back to the Senate for approval of an unrelated amendment, would reverse recent attorney-general and court decisions.
During the House Education Committee meeting Tuesday, Sara Call, a member of the Frankfort Independent Board of Education, testified her board had twice held closed-door evaluations with the superintendent, which was a violation of current state law, and said superintendent evaluation needed to be conducted in a closed meeting to allow for 'frank, honest and sometimes painful' conversations. "It’s sometimes difficult to be totally honest in front of the press," she told the committee, Stephenie Steitzer of The Courier-Journal reported.
The Kentucky Press Association has voiced strong disapproval of the bill, arguing the evaluation process of the highest-ranking school system employee should be done in open. "We strongly, strongly recommend that you do not pass this bill," Ashley Pack, general counsel for KPA, told the committee.