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Carroll: Superintendents May Have Been Threatened
By Bill Hughes
PADUCAH - Kentucky State Senator Danny Carroll doesn't agree with the governor's recommendation that schools not hold in-person classes until September 28.

Carroll told West Kentucky Star he believes educators worked really hard through the summer to provide multiple educational options.

"I think the plans that were in place were sound. There was a lot of effort that all involved parties went through," he said. "The move to just disregard that was bad."

Carroll also says the "recommendation" was given to superintendents, but was backed up by threatening language. 

He said, "Obviously it was not a recommendation at all. The superintendents were really put in a bind - a very unfair situation for them  - to have to make that decision. If the governor didn't have the guts to make that decision himself, he needed to leave the superintendents and the school districts alone and let them decide what's best for their schools, and for their students and parents ultimately to decide what's best for their kids.

On Wednesday, Senator Carroll shared a video on Facebook showing part of the webcast for superintendents with State Interim Commissioner of Education Kevin Brown and Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman. Brown answered a question about why a recommendation was made instead of an order, saying the administration has taken pride in their recommendations that provide expertise to all districts, but there could be consequences to districts that don't follow them. 

Brown said he and Coleman and other state officials would immediately scheduled a conference call with superintendents and school board members from any district that doesn't comply.

"My goal is to have a different outcome at the end of the conversation," Brown said. "We know that you are getting a lot of pressure from your local board members. They are elected officials, they are, of course, getting pressure from their local communities that they represent. We understand that it's putting you in a very difficult position."

Brown then outlined potential ramifications for those that defy the recommendation, but said he didn't know if any of them would ever be utilized. They include an executive order by Governor Beshear that is more demanding than a recommendation, a declaration by the Commissioner of Public Health or a local health department to close public buildings during a public health emergency, or an emergency regulation by the Kentucky Board of Education. 

Referring to this part of the video, Carroll said, "Those conversations of that magnitude, where there are arms being twisted, I have no doubt that came with the approval of the governor. I don't think a cabinet member, a commissioner would take those kind of steps without the approval of the Governor. If that is the case, if it was solely just the commissioner, then the governor needs to hold him accountable for that. It's unethical leadership, to say the least, to do that to our superintendents, to our school districts." 

Brown also said if a district chooses to open, there could be local consequences, too.

"There will be a lot of folks with fingers crossed that nothing will go wrong. There will be a lot of us - and you included - with fingers crossed that the mask situation in your high school won't look like North Paulding Georgia. There are a lot of things that could happen. You could end up having to close school a few days later, it could really get out of control and you'd be included in national media. None of us want to see that," Brown said. "On the other hand, you could go back and you could implement it just like the Lt. Governor has faith - and I do as well - that it could be implemented and you would be successful in it."

Carroll said while nobody wants kids or anyone to get sick, there are other factors that must be included in the discussion.

"The mental health, social and emotional wellness, the abuse going on, suicides, so those things are coming into play. It's been that long that we have to factor those things in. When you've got the CDC Director testifying that kids need to go back to school, then we need to factor those things in," Carroll said. 

When asked whether he thought state officials would follow through on any of these actions if schools systems like Hickman County don't comply, Carroll said, "We will see. If you view the video, it was pretty direct, and I think the governor even made the statement, 'the consequences are theirs.' So we've gone from 'Team Kentucky' to 'the consequences are theirs.'"


Here is the video that Carroll shared on Facebook on Wednesday:

Published 07:00 PM, Thursday Aug. 13, 2020
Updated 09:53 PM, Friday Aug. 14, 2020

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