The Richmond Register

State News

April 2, 2009

OEA not well known, often not welcome news

FRANKFORT — It’s not a well known government agency, but when the Office of Education Accountability visits a school district, it’s often not welcome news.

That is because such visits usually are the result of complaints that the district or its board of education violated some governance mandate of the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act which established OEA.

The agency is not attached to the Kentucky Department of Education, but instead answers to the legislature. It was created to ensure schools operate efficiently and effectively and observe the decentralized governing procedures created by KERA. Those removed board members from any hiring decisions except for the superintendent and created Site-Based Decision Making Councils, which hire principals who in turn — in consultation with the SBDM — hire school building staff.

OEA also makes annual reports to the legislature which include data on enrollment, finance and other areas of management of all 174 districts. It suggests changes in legislation to lawmakers as well.

“They’ve done a very good job,” said Rep. Harry Moberly, D-Richmond, one of the lawmakers who has been in the legislature since KERA was passed. “We get confidential information from them on their investigations and I have always found them to be very effective and I have been well satisfied with their work.”

Marcia Ford Seiler, OEA director, said the agency usually averages about 60 open investigations at any given time. In 2008, the agency opened 68 cases and closed 67 of them. The investigations are divided into two categories, Seiler said. One is investigations which involve complaints of inappropriate hiring processes, inappropriate involvement in hiring by board members or the superintendent or board member conflicts of interest. The other category usually involves mistakes in hiring procedures by SBDM councils.

Most are prompted by complaints from board members or district personnel, but also can be submitted by private individuals. They are often submitted anonymously through an on-line complaint form ( or a telephone hotline at 1-502-564-8167 or 1-800-242-0520.

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