Here’s who is seeking open District 3 Fayette County school board seat

At least three candidates have emerged for the vacant District 3 Fayette County school board seat as of Tuesday morning.

The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Monday.

Kathleen “Penny” Christian, former president of the 16th District PTA that includes Fayette County, and Laura Hartke, a former teacher and leader in Ky120united AFT, a union, and Mark Walden, an account representative in food service, all told the Herald-Leader they are seeking the seat vacated by Tom Jones when he resigned October 23.

Fayette County Public Schools officials on Monday night would not say who had filed and said the Herald-Leader would have to file an Open Records request to get the names.

A “majority-minority school district deserves proper representation, but representation that is effective and strong enough to challenge policies and policy makers that consistently harbor barriers to equitable access to education,” said Christian, who has been the chair of the National PTA Family Engagement Committee.

Hartke said she has “a passion for public education and for Fayette county public schools.”

“I feel that the seven years I spent in a title one school in an FCPS classroom, both pre and post pandemic, give me a unique perspective,” she said.

Hartke said she taught 18 years total — 11 in Gallatin County and seven in Fayette County. She resigned in June from Cardinal Valley Elementary.

Walden said in a message to the Herald-Leader that he wanted to make sure conservatives are being heard. Kids need to learn about a variety of perspectives and topics, and parents should be “stakeholders” in the curriculum, he said.

“We need to make sure we are focused on the kids and not rewritten knowledge based on agendas detrimental to traditional basic teaching in the primary grades and critical thinking in middle and secondary grades, while integrating American values,” Walden said.

Penny Christian
Penny Christian
Laura Hartke
Laura Hartke
Mark Walden
Mark Walden

District 3 encompasses the eastern section of the county, including Hamburg, Chilesburg and outbound Richmond Road. The selected applicant will hold office until the November 2024 election, when they will have the opportunity — along with other interested candidates — to run for a full four-year term.

At its Oct. 23 action meeting, the board accepted a letter of resignation from Jones, who was elected in 2020. Jones said he resigned for personal reasons.

Jones opened the school board’s September regular meeting with an apology for comments he made during a budget meeting earlier in the spring. The comment was criticized by a member of the Fayette County Schools Equity Council committee as a “racial microaggression.”

The school board will select a new board member by December 23 as required under a state law. Recent changes in state law have made local school boards responsible for filling vacancies among their ranks.

District spokeswoman Dia Davidson-Smith said Monday night school board members could vote by December 14. The new board member will be sworn in the first of the year. she said.

This story may be updated.