Jefferson Co. Board of Education Chair Diane Porter resigns citing health issues
Longtime member and chair of the Jefferson County Board of Education Diane Porter resigned Tuesday over health concerns.
Porter was appointed in 2010 to fill a vacancy and was elected to several subsequent terms by voters of District 1, which includes west Louisville, downtown and parts of the Highlands.
“The nature of my chronic illness demands that I prioritize my health and dedicate sufficient time for treatment, recovery, and self-care. Despite my best efforts, I have realized that I am unable to continue fulfilling my professional responsibilities at the level of excellence that our district expects and that I strive to deliver. This notice will be effective immediately,” Porter wrote in a letter to the school board Tuesday.
Porter has served as chair of the board multiple times since 2012 and was most recently reelected last fall. She has been absent from meetings since the end of August.
Now in her 70s, Porter is a retired JCPS administrator and the first African American woman to chair the school board.
When a desegregation order merged the county and city school systems to create JCPS in 1975, Porter was among the Black former Louisville City Schools educators sent to work in predominantly white schools.
“What people had to become comfortable with was staff of color, and students of color,” Porter told LPM in an interview in 2020.
In the fall of 1975, anti-integration activists burned tires outside her elementary school every day.
“I could look out from the window of my classroom and see that happen,” she said in 2020. “My goal was to try to make my students as comfortable as possible, and create the best learning environment for them that I could.
“When I moved on to other jobs, that stayed with me, no matter what my job was.”
During her 13 years on the board, Porter advocated for more investment in West End communities, as well as more resources for Black students and other students of color. In her resignation letter she named early childhood education, advanced programming, and schools for boys and girls of color among areas of her “interest and commitment.”
“Education has been my lifelong passion, and I have cherished the opportunity to work alongside students, teachers, parents, administrators, and the community in our shared mission,” Porter wrote in her resignation letter.
Porter wrote that she has “complete confidence in the continued dedication and commitment of the board to the betterment of our educational system.”
District 6 board member Corrie Shull, the current vice chair, will step in as chair, according to a JCPS spokesperson. The board will then seek nominations and appoint a replacement for Porter.
An election for the District 1 seat will be held in November 2024.