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Robbie Fletcher tapped as next Kentucky education commissioner

Empty school hallway with lockers
Eleanor Hasken
The education commissioner position became vacant last fall, when Jason Glass resigned.

A superintendent from eastern Kentucky will become the state’s next education commissioner. The appointment of Robbie Fletcher was approved on Thursday in a special meeting of the Kentucky Board of Education.

Kentucky has named its next education commissioner.

In a special meeting on Thursday, the Kentucky Board of Education announced that Lawrence County Schools Superintendent Robbie Fletcher will take over the position.

Portrait of a man wearing glasses
Kentucky Department of Education
Robbie Fletcher was named Kentucky's education commissioner in March 2024.

Fletcher thanked board members for their confidence in his ability to lead the state’s 171 school districts.

“I sincerely believe there is no greater compliment, no greater honor, no greater responsibility when a parent or guardian allows another person to be part of their child’s life," stated Fletcher.

Fletcher was one of three finalists under consideration for the job.

"We sought a leader who embodies the qualities of an ambassador and statesperson, an expert instructional leader, a strong organizational leader and a visionary innovator," Kentucky Board of Education Chair Sharon Porter Robinson said. "We are confident that Dr. Fletcher meets these requirements and are excited about the future of education in the Commonwealth under his leadership.”

Fletcher has been superintendent of Lawrence County Schools since 2014. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at Asbury College, as well as a teacher and principal in the Martin County school district. As he prepares to lead the state’s 171 school districts, Fletcher pledged to “be all in, every day.”

“When a child sits on one of our buses or walks through the door of one of our schools, a parent or guardian is saying I trust you with my greatest accomplishment as a person. I will do my best to honor that trust.”

The education commissioner position has been open since the resignation of Jason Glass last fall. Glass stepped down from the post because of his opposition to what he called the targeting of LGBTQ+ students by the state legislature.

Fletcher’s first official day as education commissioner is July 1, pending confirmation by the Kentucky Senate. He’s the first education chief impacted by a 2023 law requiring the Republican-led Senate to approve the hiring. State Sen. Mike Wilson of Bowling Green authored the bill requiring Senate confirmation.

“Our previous commissioner focused far more on his personal political views than he did educational outcomes. That must not be the case moving forward," said Wilson in a statement. “I'm encouraged by the initial reports of a quality nominee KDE will submit to the Senate for confirmation. Robbie Fletcher is from right here in Kentucky and is very familiar with the needs of students across the commonwealth."

The goal is to get Fletcher confirmed before the General Assembly adjourns the 2024 session next month, but Wilson added if a nominee is hired and isn't confirmed before the session ends, they could assume the role, but if not confirmed the following session, they would be terminated.

Robin Fields Kinney will remain in the role on an interim basis until Fletcher's confirmation.

Details of his contract were not disclosed. 

The legislature is making other attempts in the current session to gain greater oversight of the Kentucky Department of Education. House Bill 825 would audit the agency's finances and operations. Perhaps the most consequential legislation, Senate Bill 8, would require Kentucky Board of Education members to be elected by voters rather than be appointed by the governor.

Copyright 2024 WKU Public Radio. To see more, visit WKU Public Radio.

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