Senate confirms Robbie Fletcher as next Kentucky education commissioner

Published 6:34 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

By McKenna Horsley, Kentucky Lantern

The Kentucky Senate has confirmed the next commissioner of education after giving him a warm reception in the Senate Education Committee last week. 

Robbie Fletcher, who is now the superintendent of Lawrence County Schools in Eastern Kentucky, was confirmed to become Kentucky’s top education official in a vote of 36-1 on Monday. He is the first education commissioner to require Senate confirmation under a law that the General Assembly passed last year. 

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Sen. Phillip Wheeler, who was the sponsor of the resolution, spoke highly of Fletcher ahead of the vote and highlighted Fletcher’s “continued commitment towards the children of Kentucky schools.”

Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Steve West, R-Paris, called Fletcher the “Mark Pope of Kentucky education,” referring to the newest University of Kentucky men’s basketball head coach and Fletcher’s history of working as an educator in Eastern Kentucky. 

The lone no vote was Sen. Donald Douglas, R-Nicholasville. 

Fletcher told reporters that he appreciated  the Senate’s vote of confidence. Between now and July, which is when he officially begins as education commissioner, Fletcher will have transition meetings with the Kentucky Department of Education and review the organization of the department. 

“My goal as commissioner will be to make sure that every single child is safe, loved, and they’re well educated,” he said.

During Friday’s committee meeting, some members congratulated Fletcher on his selection by the Kentucky Board of Education. In that meeting, Fletcher reiterated his goal to support all Kentucky students and a desire to work with lawmakers without becoming embroiled in political conflicts. 

During the Kentucky Board of Education meeting to announce its selection of Fletcher, KBE Chair Sharon Porter Robinson said the choice was made “with great confidence after great due diligence.”

She said in a Monday statement numerous education stakeholders gave feedback throughout the commissioner search process and “Fletcher embodies all of the qualities we could ask for.” 

“Throughout his time as a teacher and school administrator, Fletcher has demonstrated the qualities of an ambassador and statesperson, an expert instructional leader and a visionary innovator,” Robinson said. “We look forward to watching him flourish as the commissioner of all public schools in the Commonwealth.”

Fletcher will receive an annual salary of $265,000. His contract is through 2028. 

Former Education Commissioner Jason Glass left the role in September amid tensions with Republicans in Frankfort. At the time, Glass said he did not want to be part of implementing a controversial anti-transgender law that limited how schools can teach about human sexuality and gender identity and freed adult staff to misgender students. Glass is now at Western Michigan University.