House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Republicans
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2009

Letter from Rep. John Kline to Education Secretary Arne Duncan re: Kevin Jennings

The Honorable Arne Duncan
Secretary
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202 

Dear Secretary Duncan: 

The individuals charged with operating and overseeing our nation’s schools bear a tremendous responsibility. Our teachers and principals on the front lines and the public servants in the nation’s capital have been entrusted with shaping and influencing the lives of the next generation. As a parent and a grandparent, I expect these individuals to demonstrate sound judgment and responsibility. As a policymaker, I have a duty to ensure those same qualifications are met. When a public servant has not demonstrated the requisite judgment and responsibility for the office, they must be held accountable. Accordingly, I request Kevin Jennings be removed from his position as Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free-Schools. 

The Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools administers, coordinates, and recommends policies to promote school safety, character education, and drug prevention. Sound judgment and a proven track record of promoting student safety must be demonstrated by the individual charged with keeping our children and our schools safe and drug free. 

Of his own accord, Mr. Jennings has written and spoken openly about numerous incidents in his past that directly controvert the mission of the office he now heads. He has acknowledged a history of drug use as a student, and he has shared the details of an incident in which a minor student confided in him regarding a dangerous sexual encounter with an adult, which Mr. Jennings failed to report to law enforcement or the student’s parents. 

Although Mr. Jennings heads an office directly responsible for hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and numerous federally governed programs, he was not subject to the rigorous vetting process of confirmation by the U.S. Senate. As such, it falls to you to ensure the head of the OSDFS demonstrates the judgment and responsibility imperative to successful execution of the office. Because Mr. Jennings has demonstrated neither, I am compelled to call on you to see to his swift removal from office. 

Sincerely, 

John Kline
Senior Republican Member

(Click here for a PDF copy of the letter)