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Education Briefs

Kentucky School Advocate
September 2019 
Newport superintendent sues over audit     
Newport Superintendent Kelly Middleton (right) has filed a federal lawsuit against the Kentucky Department of Education and its auditors after an unfavorable audit of his district. 

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Covington, alleges that the audit included false statements from “disgruntled” employees involved in test cheating, was denied an appeal and hurt his reputation, including his ability be an educational speaker, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. 

The suit names the Kentucky Department of Education, Commissioner Wayne Lewis and AdvancED, which perform audits for KDE, and other KDE officials.

The audit was performed after Newport's elementary, intermediate and high schools were identified as among the 5 percent lowest-performing schools in the state last year. Auditors gave the lowest marks in every leadership category but one, the Enquirer reported. Middleton disputed several aspects of the audit but was told there is no mechanism to appeal. 

Middleton is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as a public declaration that the audit was inaccurate and that it be retracted completely.

Kentuckians name education as a top priority     
Education, jobs and health care remain top priorities for Kentucky voters heading into the 2019 gubernatorial election, according to results from the second annual Education Poll of Kentucky released by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. 

The Mason-Dixon Poll asked registered voters to name one issue that elected officials most need to address, they responded:

• Health care, 32 percent

• Jobs and the economy, 24 percent

• K-12 public education, 20 percent

• Infrastructure, 12 percent

• Public safety, 6 percent

The poll also showed support for early childhood education with 74 percent of voters saying they support increasing state funding to provide quality childcare and preschool for more low-income working parents. A majority of voters (58 percent) also said that graduates of Kentucky high schools are prepared for the workplace or postsecondary education after high school.

A majority of voters, 58 percent, believe teacher salaries are too low while 34 percent think they are about right; 3 percent believe salaries are too high. When asked if they support increasing state taxes to fund public education, voters tied, with 48 percent supporting, 48 percent opposing and 4 percent undecided. 

Report shows education a cyber target     
Hackers targeted the education industry with malicious emails more than any other sector in the first quarter of 2019, the email security firm Mimecast said in a new report. The education industry received nine times as many attacks as the average user in all tracked sectors, including IT, software, management and consulting and biotechnology, the report said.  

The company cited “constantly changing student populations that are unlikely to have high security awareness” as one reason for hackers’ focus on education. 
“Attackers may also recognize that such educational institutions are harder to defend,” the report said, “because of the apparent conflict between their inherent openness for academic reasons and the need to protect high-value research conducted for government and industry partners.” 

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