The leaders of public education gave a strong, public vote of confidence in Jessamine County’s top school official Monday after her integrity was questioned in a national newspaper earlier in the month.
Superintendent Lu Young was a focal point of the Jan. 2 New York Times article by Michael Winerip that suggested state education officials had favored Pearson publishing for state contracts after attending trips sponsored by the company. Young traveled to Australia in July 2010 with other superintendents on a trip sponsored by Pearson and was part of a committee that recommended the company for a state contract seven months later.
Young spoke out on the matter the day the article was reprinted in the Lexington Herald-Leader, filling in what she called “glaring omissions” in the Times story. She said she attended the Australia trip at the request of the American Association of School Administrators, not Pearson, and she pointed out that the technical scoring group she was a part of did not rate Pearson highest; the company was recommended to provide assessments after a budget score was factored in.
“I have legitimate, reasonable, honest responses to things that could look like allegations against my integrity or ethical behaviors,” Young told The Journal on Jan. 3. “The Australia trip was not frivolous; it was not done in exchange for any influence on my part at all — none whatsoever. And my participation in the state in (the review) process was exactly as it was prescribed and designed to be: one of 13 or 14 people who went through a very regimented process to review those proposals and to rank-order those for recommendation in the procurement process.”
Amy Day, vice chairperson of the Jessamine County Board of Education, choked up a little bit as she read a statement in support of Young at Monday night’s board meeting. The board unanimously approved the resolution, which also included a narrative of the events.
“The Jessamine County Board of Education has the utmost respect for Lu Young and complete confidence in her conduct of both a professional and personal nature,” Day read. “... We appreciate her transparency in this matter and are proud to have her as our superintendent.”
Board chairman Eugene Peel said he and the board members decided it was important to have a public statement made that they stand behind their superintendent.
“We never had any doubts about your integrity,” Peel told Young. “We felt like that we wanted to make a statement. People suggested letters and this, that and the other, but we wanted to do something more where it would be an official part of this meeting’s records.”
Young said she was surprised when she heard the board would draft a resolution but glad to know they wanted it to be a serious event.
“It meant a lot that they would be so formal as to say, ‘We know the truth in the matter, and we have talked to you about it,’ and go through the steps of the process and the chronology that was included in the resolution,” she said. “That level of confidence is really, really important to me as the superintendent, and having their support was touching. I appreciate it and will never forget it.”