Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Jason Glass
After the racially-charged Halloween party photograph surfaced on social media two days ago, members of the Paducah Board of Education have no current plans to fire Superintendent Donald Shively. The photo of Shively and a friend in blackface has sent outrage throughout the community calling for his resignation from Paducah/McCracken NAACP President J.W. Cleary.
Board Chairman Dr. Carl LeBuhn, member Dr. James Hudson and board vice chairman Dr. Felix Akojie would like to see Shively continue at the Paducah Public Schools as Superintendent. Under Shively’s watch, black students have made academic advancements.
According to the Kentucky Department of Education 2019-2020 report, the four year graduation rate for African American students has increased overall. The report shows Paducah Tilghman High School’s college and career readiness rates are one of the highest in the region.
After the reveal of the 2002 photo, Shively asked for forgiveness from the African-American community in both a statement and a pre-recorded interview. Shively came forward with the existence of the photo to the Board in February of 2019. He said that he did so after the national media exposed two other prominent figures in blackface namely Virginia Governor Ralph Norman and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The three board members, Dr. LeBuhn, Dr. Hudson, and Dr. Akojie spoke with Shamarria Morrison, a local reporter. During the conversation, both LeBuhn and Hudson said they do regret not reporting the photograph to the public in 2019. Both said they believed it was a mistake that had been made almost two decades ago. In hindsight, things could’ve been handled differently. All three board members felt the photo was wrong and they believe it was one act from a man that has contributed so much more to the school system.
The Kentucky Department of Education was made aware of the photo yesterday. In a statement from the Commissioner of Education Jason Glass he said, “The use of blackface is highly offensive and unacceptable for any person to use. I, the Kentucky Department of Education and the Kentucky Board of Education condemn such actions and the detrimental effects they have on our communities and schools.”
The Education Professional Standards Board will be charged with reviewing all complaints against certified educators for possible discipline against an educators certificate including this particular action.
In order for the Paducah Board of Education members to fire Shively, there needs to be a vote of 4 of the 5 members in favor of dismissal. Both LeBuhn and Hudson are up for re-election.