Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass to leave post at end of September

by McKenna Horsley, Kentucky Lantern

Kentucky Education Commissioner Jason Glass is stepping down as the state’s top education official to become the associate vice president of teaching and learning at Western Michigan University, the Kentucky Department of Education said Monday. 

Glass, who the Kentucky Board of Education appointed as commissioner in 2020, had come under frequent fire from Kentucky Republicans who criticized KDE’s inclusive guidance to support LGBTQ+ students. GOP lawmakers filed resolutions calling for his ouster earlier this year and gubernatorial candidates vowed to remove him as well. 

In a press release, the department said Glass will serve as commissioner until Sept. 29.

“These past three years have been a remarkable journey and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to return to my home state and serve as commissioner,” Glass said. “I wish to thank the members of the Kentucky Board of Education for their wisdom and leadership, the staff at the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) for their exemplary service and those working in education roles across the state for their continuing efforts to serve and support all of Kentucky’s children. I have a heart full of gratitude.”

His four-year contract was to end in September 2024. 

KBE Chair Lu S. Young said in the press release that the board will hold a special-called meeting in August to discuss its next steps, such as a timeline with an interim commissioner. Monday’s press release did not include specific information about who will serve as an interim commissioner. 

“The Kentucky Board of Education selected Dr. Glass to be our commissioner at a very turbulent time in the world,” Young said. “He led deftly through the challenges of the pandemic and two major natural disasters while, at the same time, galvanizing support across schools and communities around a bold new vision for learning and teaching in the Commonwealth.”

In May, Glass was a finalist to become the superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools according to media reports, but was passed over for the job.

The Republican-dominated General Assembly passed a law subjecting future commissioner appointees to Senate confirmation this year. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear vetoed the measure but it was overridden. 

After the news broke Monday, Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron released a statement: “One down, one to go.” 

Cameron, who is running to unseat Beshear, has been critical of Glass on the campaign trail. Chief among Cameron’s complaints is past comments from Glass about how teachers should follow their school districts’ policies when addressing transgender students as part of their employment.

Glass and Beshear should find other jobs, Cameron continued Monday, He added that Glass’ future departure “brings us halfway toward that goal, and I’m ready to help Andy Beshear find another job this November.”

In a statement from his office, Beshear thanked Glass “for his service to Kentucky.”

“I will call on the Kentucky Board of Education to conduct a national search to find the right person to fill this important role and continue to move our education system forward for children across the commonwealth,” the governor added.

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Photo: Education Commissioner Jason Glass addressed the House Education Committee earlier this year. (Photo for Kentucky Lantern by McKenna Horsley)