A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

State Board of Education votes unanimously to name Wayne Lewis permanent Education Commissioner

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The Kentucky Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to name Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis the next permanent head of Kentucky schools.

Following the vote, the board authorized Board Chairman Hal Heiner to negotiate Lewis’ contract. Pending the outcome, the board could vote on the terms of the contract, including salary, at the second day of its meeting on Wednesday.

Wayne Lewis

“I can think of no better person than Wayne Lewis to affect the type of change that is needed in public education in Kentucky right now,” said Heiner. “His vision for Kentucky’s students will help accomplish what educators and politicians have struggled to accomplish for many years – to close achievement gaps for students of all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and learning abilities.”

The vote came following Lewis’ six-month evaluation headed by the board’s Operational Management Committee.

Lewis has served as interim commissioner since April 2018, when his predecessor, Stephen Pruitt, resigned, after Gov. Matt Bevin reconstituted the board.

Before that, Lewis was executive director of educational policy and programs with the Kentucky Cabinet for Education and Workforce Development.  From 2009 until 2015, Lewis was a faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies at the University of Kentucky, earning tenure and promotion to the rank of associate professor.

“My background with K-12 education, postsecondary education, workforce development and policy creation align nicely with the board’s current priority of blurring the lines between high school, college and workforce development,” Lewis said.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to impact the lives of Kentucky’s most precious resource, our children, and I’m confident that we will make positive change to education outcomes in the years to come.”

Following the board vote, the Senate Democratic Caucus issued a statement in opposition to Tuesday’s action:

“In another move to implement charter schools in Kentucky, the Governor has appointed Wayne Lewis as the state’s education commissioner. Though we need to make changes to our educational system, we fear that the Governor is taking us down a dangerous path that will cause unquestionable harm to public education in the commonwealth.”

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