Hisle suggested Christy retire because he didn’t have the votes to renew his contract
Published 7:40 pm Wednesday, April 21, 2021
Scott Hisle, a former member of the Clark County Board of Education, told The Sun Wednesday he “strongly encouraged” Superintendent Paul Christy in February to announce his retirement early because, based on “snippets of conversations and passing remarks” involving three current board members, he didn’t think Christy had the votes he needed to renew his contract.
Those three members were the ones who voted Monday for nonrenewal: Sherry Richardson, who made the motion, and the two new members, Brenda Considine and Megan Hendricks.
Considine and Hendricks succeeded Hisle and Gordon Parido, whose terms ended in December.
Hisle said he told Christy that he probably did not have the support of a majority and suggested that he “consider announcing his retirement sooner rather than later, thus giving the board ample time to find a replacement.”
After the board voted 3-2 Monday against giving him another year, Christy, without mentioning Hisle or the current board members by name, alluded to that conversation while addressing the audience.
“To some in this room, this may come as a surprise, but to me, it doesn’t,” the superintendent said. “I knew this was coming.”
Christy said during the meeting he had an email from a former board member informing him that he didn’t have the votes to continue, and when he called that member about a week later, he confirmed it.
Hisle said Wednesday that was the indication he got from the three members at the time, but that was months ago, and “How somebody is going to vote is a very fluid situation.”
“Anything I had at that time was just a temperature reading,” he said.
Since that conversation with Christy, he said, the board completed an “exhaustive process” of “detailed evaluation” before making its decision.
Hisle did not indicate whether or not he would have made the same decision.
“In saying that, I think Mr. Christy has done a wonderful job as superintendent,” Hisle said, but he got the feeling that “certain members of the board wanted to continue in a fresh direction and take us to another level.”
Hisle said the board didn’t have to evaluate Christy again this month because it had already fulfilled its requirement by evaluating him in August, which was within the contract year that runs from July 1 through June 30.
He said he encouraged Christy to reach out to board members to find out himself which way they were leaning.
Christy did talk to at least one of the members, because during his comments at the board meeting, he said one told him, “I don’t know you. I don’t know anything you could have done differently to do it any better. I have that in writing.”
This was the same board member, he said, who voted against him 60 days after taking office even though she had never had training on superintendent evaluations, ethics, or finance.
Board member Bill Taulbee said Christy was referring to Hendricks, who did attend a conference in December for new board members but did not take those courses.
In an interview Wednesday outside Central Office with television and print reporters, Christy said he was humbled by the strong show of support at Monday night’s board meeting from members of the public who stood up at the beginning of the meeting and commended him on the job he had done as superintendent and urged the board to rehire him for the 2021-2022 school year. But, he said: “It’s hurtful to feel that you’ve lost the support of the board, especially when you have worked with one board member as your assistant for eight years.”
Christy was referring to Considine, a former teacher and principal who now works for the state Department of Education and was Clark County’s assistant superintendent until about a year and a half ago. He said he thought they had a good working relationship.
Christy said he thinks the decision to oust him had a great deal to do with COVID-19.
The superintendent has endured intense criticism of his decision to continue online instruction after some school districts had brought kids back into the classroom. However, he tried bringing students back in last fall and had to return to virtual learning after infection rates spiked.
Students returned to full in-person learning after infections trended downward for a time and teachers and other staff had been vaccinated. But for many weeks prior, small groups who needed extra attention had been allowed back in the schools.
Christy said he believed his most important responsibility was to keep the students and staff safe.
“Knowing what I know now and seeing the way things worked out … not just in Kentucky, but across the nation and worldwide, I’m not sure that I would have done anything any different,” he said.
The superintendent has been in public education for 30 years, including 16 years in administration in Clark County Public Schools, the last eight as superintendent.
He said the school district is better now than it was eight years ago.