McCracken County School Board talks leadership change, social media aftermath

MCCRACKEN COUNTY — At an emergency meeting Monday, the McCracken County Board of Education voted 4 to 1 to approve a new interim superintendent.

The vote came after Superintendent Brian Harper officially resigned. His resignation was accepted by the board in another emergency meeting Friday, and it went into effect Saturday. He resigned after weeks of investigations and charges against a former teacher, a former coach, a principal, and an 18-year-old student — all out of McCracken County High School.

The new interim superintendent is Heath Cartwright.

Heath Cartwright

School Board Chairman Steve Shelby says the board called an emergency meeting Monday because there was an immediate need to place new leadership. That meeting lasted for nearly two hours.

Member Kelly Walker voted against hiring Cartwright as interim. She explained: “What I have heard is that (constituents) would have wanted someone outside of the district, a retired person from KSBA (Kentucky School Board Association). I think when we vote, it will reflect what the desire is. With that, I will say — with my vote — I will support Mr. Cartwright.”

Shelby says he heard the same concerns from people. “I think they have a legitimate concern with what they stated. However, I felt very comfortable with Heath Cartwright and the knowledge he has.”

That action does not shut off the spotlight board members have found themselves under. Some board members say they are now having to deal with accusations on social media.

“I can’t discuss anything from the executive session, and because we can’t discuss things that are in closed session,” board member Tiffany Watson says. “That’s where people derive things and form their own opinions. Those opinions get out on social media, and I think from that point it escalates to where it turns into an ongoing battle in social media that is not based on facts.”

Watson has four kids who go to school in the district. She’s says the rumors spread about district employees are not always true.

Shelby says the social media frenzy does not reflect what’s actually going on. “It’s not chaotic. Social media makes it chaotic,” he says.

He says they are focused on the next step, which is finding a new, permanent McCracken County superintendent.