Community Colleges

Kentucky Attorney General Tells Community-College Board to Restore Tenure

September 23, 2009

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System's Board of Regents overstepped its bounds when it voted in March to eliminate tenure for all faculty and staff members hired after July 1, according to an advisory opinion from the state attorney general's office.

The opinion, issued this week at the request of state Rep. Rick Nelson, a Democrat, says the board's authority to govern the system is delineated by state law, which calls for the system's new employees to earn tenure based on whatever personnel policies the board has put in place. While the board has the authority to adopt new procedures and standards for granting tenure, the opinion says, "it is not free to eliminate tenture entirely."

Allison Gardner Martin, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway, said the board faces a civil lawsuit if it does not take action to remedy the conflict between its policy and the state law cited in the letter. The board is scheduled to meet this week.

Proponents of the board's decision to abolish tenure for new hires had argued that it would save the system money and would give colleges more flexibility in hiring decisions. Many faculty members at community and technical colleges were angered by the decision, however, and those at several institutions voted no confidence in the system's leadership in the months following the board's vote.