Lexington City School Board members
Lexington City School Board members discuss a salary raise for teachers and staff at a February meeting. (Basnight photo)

By Luke Fountain

Lexington City School Board chairman Tim Diette is leaving his post at the end of December.

Diette, an economics professor at Washington and Lee, has accepted a job as the Dean of the Faculty at Hampden Sydney College beginning in January.

His departure comes at a time of controversy on the board. Members have yet to agree on the best policy about book selection and removal in the wake of parents’ outrage over books some say are sexually explicit.

“The school board has important issues facing it right now,” Diette said. “We hope to solve some of those before I leave. If not, I am confident in the board once I am gone.”

The board has continued to delay voting on a new policy and plans to keep debating it at its December meeting.

Diette was appointed to the board in 2019 and has served as chairman since being appointed. He helped navigate Lexington schools through the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning.

Members of the board praised him for his service.

“We are definitely going to miss Mr. Diette on the school board,” Superintendent Rebecca Walters said. “We cannot thank him enough for his service.”

“You’ve done your job,” board member Michael Saunders said at the board’s meeting last Tuesday. “There are some people who disagree with you, but you are not doing this for pay, you’re doing this because you care about this school system and I thank you for the work you’ve done for this community.”

Next steps

Vice chair Tammy Dunn will take over the role of chairperson. School board policy mandates a chair and vice chair be elected every year at the board’s organizational meeting in July.

City council will fill Diette’s position. Council member David Sigler said it could take about six weeks. But it’s unclear when the council will appoint a new member on the board. The application for a position is available on the city’s website.

The new member will have to run for a board seat when the school board has its first-ever elections next November. In 2022, Lexington voters passed a referendum to elect Lexington City School Board members beginning in 2024.

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