Dear JCPS,

XXXXXX is a school in need of something. My child attends there and wants to learn but tells me everyday how disrespectful the kids are to teachers and some teachers spend half their class time trying to gain control of the class.

My daughter has a class with a teacher who can barely speak English and has repeatedly asked to be transferred to another class but it was refused..however a child of another race was transferred out who tells the same story about this teacher..2 different periods where half the class is failing.

I have contacted the counselor and requested my child be transferred still not happening..I’ve contacted the board with my concerns and was told they’d be forwarded to the principal..a week later still no response. My child has a 504 that clearly states her problems and it goes ignored…
My child is falling through the cracks here and nobody seems to care…i guess she has to fight a teacher to get attention (sarcasm)..the focus seems to be on all the bad kids there..

so someone

please

tell me.

what to do

 

Anonymous submission from a JCPS Parent

Dear Anonymous,

Iroquois is not on fire. You are! Bring your buckets of water if that’s what you think because you’re a liar with your pants on fire.

Our school isn’t perfect. You won’t find one that is. Sometimes we have above average challenges and at all times we have an above average staff to meet those challenges. If you’re actually on our staff, Anonymous, you are the weakest link. Transfer season opens in three months and I’ll do your paperwork for you, will gladly help you pack, and hold the door for your tired behind to leave quickly, quietly, and reverently.

You’ve attacked my wonderful principal, our dedicated counselors, our committed staff (amongst whom are proud alumni), and worst of all, our students. You see, my own children, scores of extended family, and all of my godchildren were educated at Iroquois. My son was valedictorian and graduated magna from UofL. Professors couldn’t believe he’d graduated from Iroquois. I could. It’s a great school where, without regret, I’ve dedicated 20 years of my life. I’ve never had a bad day there. Challenges? Yes. I signed up for public school and everything that comes with it. I love my school.

What peeves me about you, Anonymous, is that you choose to hide behind your words. I would not normally give such messiness the time of day, but you attacked something dear to me—my school. You attacked someone dear to me—my colleagues and students.

Stay comfortable in your misery, sad person, because what’s said in the dark will come to the light. But before you post again, let me go low for a moment. According to my writing scoring rubric, I would like for you to work on the following—this one’s on me:

1. Organization is key. Group your rambling thoughts coherently.
2. Though we could understand your miserable letter, transition words would make it a smoother read. If you’re going to insult us, at least smooth out the wrinkles in your pig’s ear.
3. Ramp up your vocabulary to better represent the best of your thinking—unless your vocabulary as presented actually does represent your level of thinking. In that case, sign up for Iroquois where we will teach you to strengthen, well, everything you’ve written.
4. Use concrete examples and skillfully interweave them throughout your writing. Tie in example, explanation, etc. Give your audience a full picture to prove you know what you are writing about. Try not to “list”.
5. Be truthful in your writing. Authenticity is also key.
6. Own your writing with a closing that includes your signature and printed name.

If you are amongst us at the school, you have lost the respect and trust of your colleagues. Maybe you need a hug. Maybe you need Jesus. I don’t know. But what I do know is, while our school is not for every teacher, our school is for every student. We value Iroquois and, like any commitment, we take the ups and the downs with grace. And for those of us who are committed, and I’m included in that number, it has been and it remains a distinct pleasure to work for everything Iroquois.

Don’t ever write another letter like that again.

Aletha Fields
(c) Aletha Fields, 2019

Dear JCPS,

I am a teacher at Iroquois High School. We are on fire. The recent news reports only show a very small portion of the absolute hell our school has become. Today (Friday 11/1/19) I witnessed no less than four fights. This is the norm. A kid sat in traffic on Taylor Boulevard.

We have multiple staff attacked. Let me tell you about the district response:

They sent a bunch of central office people over to stand around. Assistant superintendents Zeitz, Rogers, and a couple others. They don’t know our kids or staff. They stood around and pretended to help, but didn’t do anything.

Half of our teachers don’t even show up anymore, and I’ll be blunt that many of our teachers are terrible, but they’re all we can find.

Our principal is DONE. Our assistant principals don’t want to be here and the kids don’t respect them. Our counselors are done and don’t want to be here.

Our building is on fire and the district does NOTHING.

We need a real principal, real leadership, and real support with chronic misbehavior. JCTA does nothing to support us. We need real leadership and real support.

Please help us.

Iroquois Business and Education Academy Teacher

Louisville Judge sides with Dear JCPS co-founder. Orders JCPS to release PTAs’ financial records to the public.

“In these challenging times, as educators and decision makers explore the glaring inequities in our district and seek ways to resolve them, Dear JCPS wants to make sure every student has an advocate in their corner — especially our most vulnerable students.

District leaders are to be commended as they grapple with tackling glaring disparities in the current student assignment plan, closing achievement gaps, and reducing behavior and discipline inequities. In addition to these visible inequities, there are often unseen disparities among parental involvement, volunteer and community participation, and fundraising between schools primarily comprised of students whose parents have the social, political and financial capital to advocate for their students to ensure they attend “the right schools,” while those whose parents lack the time, transportation, technology or literacy to navigate the complex system of “choice,” do not.

To that end, Dear JCPS co-founder, Gay Adelmann recently made a routine records request of the largest school district in Kentucky (27th largest in the nation), to obtain copies of local PTAs’ financial records for the past 5 years. These records, which, according to the “Redbook” are required by Kentucky law to be filed annually with each school’s year-end audit, consist of a preliminary budget and a one-page year-end financial review. Her hope was to identify schools that might benefit from a little extra help with programming or fundraising and raise community awareness so that these disparities could be taken into consideration while the district is actively tackling the bigger picture issues.

As often happens when records are held in multiple locations, or when district personnel are unavailable during summer break, the district notified Adelmann that additional time would be required before these records would be made available to her. They informed her she would receive the documents on August 30.

On August 12, Adelmann received an email from Kentucky PTA attorney Coy Travis informing her that his client had filed a complaint in district court to seek injunctive relief in order to prevent the district from turning these records over to her. A hearing was set for August 15 in which she was invited to appear.

With less than three days to prepare, Adelmann sought counsel from pro-bono attorneys and open records experts. They helped her prepare this brief, which was filed during the hearing, but none were able to accompany her in court.

At the hearing, Judge Cunningham was critical of the Kentucky PTA’s request but decided to defer the decision to the Attorney General’s office, in the event all parties were not be able to work out an agreement before then. Adelmann, without an attorney to represent her, trusted the Judge’s decision, and agreed to meet with Kentucky PTA attorney after the hearing to see if they could come up with a mutually beneficial solution. He assured her he would try to help her obtain the documents as long as she asked the “right way.”

Amye Bensenhaver, a former assistant attorney general for Kentucky and a widely recognized open records expert, during this week’s episode of Save Our Schools With Dear JCPS on Forward Radio 106.5 FM said, the Attorney General should never be put in the position of telling an organization NOT to release open records. His job is to get involved when entities SHOULD release documents but are refusing to do so.

TFW the state PTA sues to block the release of routine open records (naming you as a defendant because you’re the one…

Posted by Gay Adelmann on Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Upon further consideration following last week’s court decision, it appears Judge Cunningham agrees. On August 27, as these court documents show, he sided with Adelmann and filed an order for JCPS to release the documents. Kentucky PTA has until September 16 to appeal.

At a time when privatizers are trying to get in through every nook and cranny, influential entities such as Kentucky PTA should be dedicating resources toward revealing predators and exposing their influence. This lawsuit does the opposite.

How much money and time is this lawsuit costing their dues-paying members and taxpayers? More importantly, where was this level of activism when charter schools, vouchers and loss of local parental voice on SBDMs were on the menu? In the past 10 years, only one resolution has been passed at the Kentucky PTA annual convention, and it was one that was initiated by Adelmann.

“This district is taking great steps toward addressing disparities that exist between our school communities. One of those less-often-seen inequities is the availability of parents’ time, talent and treasure,” said Adelmann. “The PTA should be helping us fight undue influences that promote and maintain inequities in our school system, not facilitating it.”

Transparency is the only tool we have to ensure that those with money and power are not using it to advance their agenda while others cannot. As a powerful, influential entity themselves, we have to ask, “What is Kentucky PTA trying to hide?”

Below are some quick links to some of the recent blog posts, board speeches, member letters and news stories regarding the 15th District PTA.

Dear JCPS,

I understand JCPS legal counsel has issued a “hands off” directive regarding oversight of external organizations.

And hand’s off is fine as long as principals and administrators are told the same thing. 

But they’re not, and that’s problematic.

I understand that we are under intense scrutiny from the state. Criticism from the audit revealed that our board may have been overstepping in this regard. And we have an upcoming audit and we don’t want anything that could lead to additional state criticism that could potentially lead to state takeover.

I get that.

However, couldn’t excessive Redbook violations, election tampering, Inappropriate use/handling of funds, etc. also leave us vulnerable?

We’ve heard reports from some members who have been called “uncooperative” or “ineffective” when they refuse to do the administration’s bidding

We’ve heard reports of Nepotism, squatting in positions for decades, election tampering, cycling thru positions from school to district to state and back, sometimes in schools where they don’t have children, again, when there are authentic parents wanting to serve.

These organizations could be changing bylaws to allow them to extend term limits, hold clandestine elections and limit who can vote, while changing rules in order to shut out voices of authentic parents and volunteers.

These external organizations have access to our students and their families. They have access to district resources dedicated to them in terms of staff, office space, materials and production.  are assured representatives can serve on committees, and are named in documents that govern the oversight of elections that can impact school policy and hiring.

They are not subject to open records. They could be holding vendor fairs in your schools, charging fees to the vendors and not delivering what is promised. Some could be manipulating external organizations to achieve financial means that are disallowed by school and district activity funds.

And they are holding inaccessible elections that are not democratic. For example, one organization’s state convention is this weekend, if you want to vote for officers, you have to pay a $55 registration fee, take time off work, drive to Lexington, pay another $129 in hotel fees, etc.

Who, I ask, is voting for these officers that are supposed to be representing all of us? Do they represent all of us? Or only some? What about our most vulnerable?

Some of these organizations are not racially reflective of district makeup, some of these organizations are pro charter, or at least not anti privatization.

We would to naive to not consider possibility infiltrators. We are allowing these organizations to use our kids to make money and push an anti public school agenda. These organizations should be focused on kids learning.
How do we gauge their effectiveness?

Not every organization is bad. Not every volunteer is an infiltrator. Not every administrator is corrupt. In fact, 99% of them are good. But we’d be naive not to realize that some of them have found ways to exploit the system to their own advantage. To take advantage our our children, especially our most vulnerable populations. 

And our board has been elected to represent us, and therefore protect us and our children.

And you have a handout from Redbook that says:

The school or district, with approval of the local board of education, may establish additional guidelines/requirements for the external support/booster organization.

Thank you.

Shawnee Parent, Carroll Bennett, addresses the JCPS Board of Education on June 11, 2019.

Dear JCPS,

I am a parent of a recent graduate from the Academy At Shawnee, and I became aware of a situation, not at my child’s school, but at another school that serves a very similar population.

I learned that a principal had recruited a teacher to run for president of PTA. How is this not a conflict of interest?

On top of that, this principal had also recruited an outsider to serve as treasurer and had another teacher file to run for a VP position. I believe she did this in order to push out these parents and have those who are loyal to her take majority control of the school’s PTA.

I also learned that the elections were held at 9:30 am during the last day of school, and that people were being allowed to join the PTA and vote on the spot. This gave teachers, who were already in the building, a distinct advantage over parents. This also put them in a precarious position of voting according to their principal’s wishes.

I learned that JCPS employees were helping with the election, and even handling money. And that officers from the State PTA were working with the principal to make decisions about that election that should have been made by the still active PTA board. I learned that lies were told about why the election was postponed, and parents’ characters were tarnished in the process.

Why would a teacher need to be president of the school’s PTA when there are parents willing to do so? Could it be so they can spend the money how the principal wants them to? Could it be so she can get the PTA to put the “agreeable” parents on the SBDM? I have learned that the teacher running for President has a husband and daughter who work in that school. And that they were picked by an SBDM over other qualified candidates. This seems like a conflict of interest since the school’s PTA is involved in the SBDM election process.

I am glad the election was postponed, but I don’t understand why it’s necessary at all. The slate of officers that was proposed by the current board should not be challenged by a bully administration that wants to maintain control. And when it is, this should raise major red flags.

This district, and this board, need to set some clear boundaries that ensure PTA elections, SBDM elections, and PTA monies are off limits to district administration manipulation.

And now I’ve learned that the district has been hit with a class action lawsuit involving racial discrimination. As a taxpayer, I think the board should play a role in at least ensuring there are best practices and protocols in place to prevent this from happening again, because I don’t want to see my tax dollars wasted on lawsuits, if it is possible to avoid another one.

Thank you,

Carroll Bennett,
Concerned Parent and Taxpayer

And Why We Are Asking Members of the JCPS Board of Education for Their Help

Click on the image to sign the petition.

Dear JCPS,

Thank you for your time! My name is XXXXXX XXXXXXXX. I am a parent of students that attend XXXXXXX and XXXXXXX Middle. I am writing this letter to make you aware of circumstances involving the 15th District PTA. First, let me give you background information about myself.

  • PTA President of XXXXXX Elementary for 2 Years
  • National PTA Award of Excellence Award
  • Raised over $25,000 that went to create different outlets that caused a shift in the minds of students as well as parents
  • Served for the past 8 years on different SBDM Boards at XXXXX Elementary and XXXXXXXX
  • Fellow of the GCIPL (Prichard Committee)
  • Served on Head-start and Early Childhood Committee in Development of George Unseld Early Learning Center
  • Zones of Hope Newburg
  • Advocating for Parents in JCPS when needed

After seeing several posts on how help was needed in 15th District PTA, I decided that I was going to run to be a Board Member. I wanted to run so that I could go into the schools and help the PTA’s that had low parent involvement and struggling with raising money to get tools needed to help with children. I was notified by the Nominating Committee on a Thursday and was told that an interview had to take place on that same weekend. A weekend in which I already had prior engagements. I voiced my thoughts on how I was not available. But ended up receiving a call anyway because they had a deadline to meet.

The interview went really well from my standpoint and I even gave ideas because they said that they needed ways to get volunteers and I suggested a program that we had come up with at XXXXX Elementary that worked successfully.

That following week the nominating committee had chosen their slate and I wasn’t on the list. I started to think about things and I researched Bylaws and decided to run from the floor. I decided to run from the floor because the Board that was chosen by the nominating committee didn’t reflect the students that the Board represents. I made a post about running and then it became others who wanted to be involved and wanted to see change. We joined together and had people who had made a commitment to change for all children.

We all notified 15th District PTA about what VP Positions that we wanted to run in. We then all had an appointment with the President of the PTA and she spoke about the position and its expectations. I also was told on my call that the reason I wasn’t chosen by the nominating committee was that I had a business. In which, this threw me off because what does that have to do with my commitment to the position that I was applying for and how does a committee who didn’t even ask me about my business know what I can do and who I have behind me? At the time of the call, there were three African American women who all were running from the floor for VP2, VP4, and VP 5.

We all had kids that were in the same District (Area 4) but we knew that it wasn’t just our kids that we were advocating for it would be all kids. In the interview process, the conversation ended up being that we all should run in the same District in which we would all run against each other. We worked it out among ourselves so no one would run against each other. But when the Ballot came out and in the VP 4 Slot it was two of us running against each other. People were told when they showed up to vote, if anyone wrote on the Ballot to correct it the ballot was voided. Ten ballots were voided that night. I can’t help but wonder if they were efforts to correct the VP 4 situation.

I have tried to communicate with the District PTA prior to the actual election day and had a lot of unanswered questions. But I believe the thing that really got me is that the Ballot highlighted who they wanted on their Board versus us. We had questionnaires that we had to fill out and if you read those you would be surprised at how much we have been involved in advocating for children. But I wasn’t chosen because we do not fit into a box and I fight for children at all cost.

I am asking the Board to look into this election and how it was unfairly rigged. We are asking for an election that is not about who the Board Members are connected to but about who can make a great impact on the welfare of all children. Please look at how many members serve as the Head of a Local PTA, District PTA, and State PTA. If the same people are recycling positions how can we create change and how can change occur if they choose who they want and not allowing those who serve as members to choose?

In conclusion, I know that suppressing schools to have 5 Delegates per school to vote for an election and then the actual Board having access to those members is not right. It is sad to see so much going on for an organization about advocating for children.

The views expressed here are those of the author, submitted via email at moderator@dearjcps.com or via our open letter form. While the full name of the author has been withheld here, they are not anonymous to us. If a school board member would like to follow up on the content of this message, they may contact us via email to request a connection with the author.

By Gay Adelmann

With the recent bullying and threats of retaliation against JCPS teachers who stood up for their students and their profession, and the distractions caused by leaders attacking those who are standing up for teachers, instead of pushing back on the bullies, it might be easy to overlook important upcoming opportunities to reshape the leadership within our district’s oldest and most prominent parent/teacher advocacy organization.

The 15th District PTA will hold elections for executive officers for the 2019-2021 term prior to the annual Awards Banquet, which is set for May 7 at the Louisville Central Community Center, Inc. at 1300 West Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

As a parent and a 20-year volunteer for PTAs in 7 different school systems, I envision a PTA that advocates for all students, especially those who may not have the same opportunities my children have had. That is why I’m concerned about an apparent preemptive move to prevent candidates who “rock the boat” from being eligible to serve on our PTAs district-wide board. A meeting to vote on several proposed bylaws changes will take place this coming Monday.

The proposed bylaw in question reads: “If a board member has been removed from the 15th District PTA Board of Directors for cause, theft, malfeasance, or for not fulfilling their duties, they shall not be eligible to hold a position on the 15th District PTA Board of Directors. Appeal Process – If removed from office, after a minimum of two years, an appeal may be made. An individual may be reinstated by a majority vote of the 15th District PTA Executive Board.”

I am one of those volunteers who was removed from my position on the 15th District PTA executive board (where I served faithfully for 3 years), for advocating for parents as an officer with Dear JCPS, and not remaining “obedient” to PTA. Following a rally spearheaded by Dear JCPS in February of 2017 encouraging Dr. Hargens to step down as Superintendent, the 15th District PTA Exec Board took steps to remove me out of fear they experience retribution from the district and could lose access to JCPS schools and the clothing closet. Despite this action having nothing to do with my involvement in PTA, and having received widespread support from the majority of our elected school board members and community, 15th District PTA leadership chose to side with the bully administration instead of its parent and teacher members.

Unfortunately, numerous other volunteers have also been removed from the PTA boards at the district and local level for standing up against a corrupt administration. Tonight’s bylaws change could prevent these or other outspoken advocates from serving on the 15th District PTA board in the future, by a status-quo-seeking establishment that refuses to stand up to bullies who attack its members. Sound familiar?

While our ALEC-backed, Koch-funded legislators were performing CPR on dead bills, harassing female staff members and raiding pensions, and our DeVos-endorsed governor and his handpicked Board of Education and Commissioner were spewing lies about special sessions, lobbing jabs from the ALEC Playbook, and issuing unlawful subpoenas, KEA and JCTA leadership, joined by officials from AFSCME, Teamsters and SEIU, aggressively pushed back on their own members and their allies instead of fighting attacks from bullies and privatizers.

Smacking of voter suppression and more cliquishness, anyone wishing to cast their vote on these proposed PTA bylaws changes must have been appointed as a delegate by their local PTA president, and names must have been submitted to the 15th District PTA president, by April 19.

It’s not too late, however, to sign up to vote as a delegate in the election on May 7. Delegates will determine the officers who will fill 8 of the district PTAs 9-member executive board, (The role of president will be filled by Eddie Squires, as determined by an executive board vote in February, following the death of president-elect Adam Kesler.)

In addition to an 8-member slate nominated by the existing executive PTA board, additional “rank-and-file” PTA members are expected to be “nominated to run from the floor,” challenging some of the candidates on the establishment’s slate.

They are:
Vice President 2 – Jamique Washington
Vice President 3 – Amanda Rhye
Vice President 4 – LaTasha Harrison
Vice President 5 – Sharika Anderson-Brown
Secretary – April Johnson (Zimmerman)

Jamique Washington
2nd Vice President Nominee
Amanda Rhye
3rd Vice President Nominee
LaTasha Harrison
4th Vice President Nominee
Sharika Anderson-Brown
5th Vice President Nominee

April Johnson (Zimmerman)
Secretary Nominee

Removing a volunteer for “cause” — a subjective term that has not been clearly defined — runs the risk of being skewed by one’s perceptions and biases, such as race or methodology. “Cause” can mean lacking loyalty and obedience to officers and bully district leaders (instead of PTA members and students), as was the case in my situation. It’s hypocritical to pretend the removal process is applied evenly, when instances of fraud, malfeasance (including election rigging, theft and criminal convictions), were not acted upon, even after being brought to leadership’s attention. And it’s naive to think an appeals process that puts the defendant back in front of the same clique that removed them in the first place would be without bias.

Fortunately, there is a grassroots movement afoot nationwide, where “rank-and-file” members are organizing and taking back their organizations. I encourage everyone to get involved in the upcoming PTA elections. Come to the bylaws vote Monday night, participate in the discussion, and ensure transparency and accountability. Also, contact your PTA President about becoming a voting delegate for the May 7 officer election.

Consider the advocacy work of each of the nominees who are running from the floor. Be intentional about voting for a PTA Executive Board that looks and thinks more like the district population it serves. In this vindictive political climate, we need to elect leaders who know how and when to rock the boat on behalf of their members, not protect a bully administration and status quo.

The Louisville Urban League will be providing transportation to these events. To RSVP please contact Carla Robinson at crobinson@lul.org.

Full disclosure:

I have also filed to run for president-elect from the floor. Not because I wanted to serve, but because I truly believe in PTA, and I want to see 15th District PTA advocate for its members and students in ALL schools they serve. (Of all of the candidates who responded to Dear JCPS’ invitations for nominations to run from the floor, I was the only one who met the minimum service requirements for president-elect.) After tonight’s bylaws vote, I may no longer be eligible to run on May 7. Repeated requests for clarification on the grounds for my removal and whether there will be time to appeal, have gone unanswered. I have a problem with that.

Think what you want about me. I don’t really care. I’m an unpaid stakeholder and advocate in this community, and yet, I’m constantly being attacked by people in positions of power who should be advocating for their members. For what? Advocating for their members! You figure that one out.

Some want to imply I’m only saying something now, out of retaliation for those who have attacked me. I suppose I could have been blasting out every wrong that I’ve witnessed all along, but I usually give the perpetrator numerous opportunities to recognize the error and change course. Until recently, I’ve avoided calling out their leaders out of respect for the institutions I believe in. Clearly, that was a mistake.

However, if you insist on believing them over me, simply because I’m not the one on the attack, at least reach out and give me an opportunity to respond to the accusations (which I’m usually not privy to), as I’ve tried to do for them. Chances are I can provide clarity, and probably even some form of evidence to dispute the misinformation, if asked.

This in’t about me. I know of at least two other officers who were removed from the PTA board over sketchy allegations that felt more like personality clashes than “cause.” This is about making sure they — and people who stand up against the administration when appropriate — may continue to be eligible to serve. This is about the democratic process. This is about the kids.

If you, too, want a PTA that advocates for ALL students in JCPS, I hope to see you and other unapologetic allies tonight at CB Young at 5:45 PM.

Gay Adelmann is a public school graduate, mother of two recent public school graduates, and co-founder of Dear JCPS and Save Our Schools Kentucky.

Watch the video here.

Dear JCPS,

Our district is headed for a state takeover in 2020 UNLESS we come up with an authentic, community-supported student assignment plan now!

We did not escape it. We only postponed it. We know auditors will be back.

What are we doing about it? Quietly making minor tweaks to the student assignment plan? Or planning a revision that our community can get behind?

We know their intentions are to justify takeover of our district, which means the removal of your powers. I know you know this, but again, I ask, what are you doing about it? Your district administration isn’t going to save you. It’s up to you. It’s why we elected you.

I am not speculating when I make the following statements:

There is a national movement to privatize our public schools, and convert them into charters or worse. Taking over the board gives them power to do this, even if they don’t get their funding mechanism.

They desire to take away local control. Look at what they are doing with SBDMs. I am disappointed that Dr Pollio has come out in support of this bill, by the way. I agree he needs more power, but let’s take it from the state, not from us.

They want to have say over our student  assignment plan. Look at HB151 from 2017. But the plan they come up with will be ill-informed and cause more harm than good. Especially to our most vulnerable students who always bear the brunt of ivory-tower decisions.

Closing schools before these vultures have even taken us over is having you doing their dirty work for them! LOOK AROUND THIS NATION at what is happening. Don’t be complicit.

Don’t close a single school in a black, brown or poor community, at least not until you hear recommendations from the student assignment committee. Don’t build a new school in any part of town until you know where the student assignment committee feels the greatest needs are. You are tying their hands and forcing them to work with a plan, instead of the other way around.

This is a teachable moment. We encourage board members to educate their constituents, not put your own district’s wants ahead of the greater good. This is a sin that’s been committed far too often in this district.

The audit mandated a revised student assignment plan. It was the poison pill. But it’s also our brier patch. Authentic, community-supported student assignment plan is our ticket to prevent state takeover.

Please do not blow it.

We’ve been busing our most disenfranchised students from their communities, many against their will, making it impossible to attend parent teacher conferences, pick their child up from school when sick, participate in after-school activities. If it’s good enough for them, why isn’t it good enough for us?

Why aren’t we having this conversation?

If you pass this facilities plan based on projected growth, without considering this possible proposal, you essentially shut us out. Perhaps that’s the district’s plan. But is it yours? We elected this board to represent the taxpayers, parents and students. To course-correct when the administration puts their own or outside interests first. You have 18 months to show us what you’re made of. But this time, it won’t be us voting you out. It will be Wayne Lewis and ALEC and their enablers.

Let’s ask parents with means, transportation, and time to carry some of this burden for the next decade. Why shouldn’t families in the West End have the same opportunities my child had?

A teacher sent us this additional background on the cell phone issue.

Dear JCPS,
 
Our cell phone policy is contradictory and ineffective. The directive at the beginning of the school year was that cell phones were completely banned between 7:30 and 2:20. They were not allowed in hallways during passing, not allowed at lunch, not allowed in classrooms. Teachers cannot make exceptions for educational purposes.

If students are on their cell phones, we are supposed to warn them that they are not allowed to be on their cell phones. We are to warn them even if we warned them every day for the last month. If they continue to use their cell phones, we can call for a staff member to come get the student. The student gets to choose whether they want to give up their phone for the rest of the day, or keep their phone and go to ISAP. We must also call the student’s parent if this happens.
 
There are a number of loopholes in this system. First, it’s tough to keep track of who you have given warnings to today and who you haven’t. It takes extra time out of class to manage that. If a kid gets on their phone anyway (and they usually do, since there’s no effective consequence), then we have to stop class to call for someone to come to my room. We then have to deal with the disruption to class that will cause. Students have learned that the last 5-10 minutes of every class is a free-for-all because there isn’t enough time for someone to come get their phone before the next class. The last class period of the day is the Wild West because worst case scenario if they take your phone, you’ll get it back in a few minutes anyway.
 
We are supposed to enforce the policy in the hallways during passing. The way this works is the kids walk down the hall with their cell phones in hand and ear buds in their ears. Teachers tell them to put them away. Half of them put their phone down until they’re a few steps past the teacher and then get right back on it. The other half ignore the teachers altogether. Either way, there will be no administration enforcement so the exercise serves no purpose except making teachers look futile and powerless.
 
The day after the incident with the teacher at Iroquois, I kept track of my class with the worst phone issues. Students were working on group projects. At the beginning of class, I told students to put their phones away (this is how I have to start every class, since there are usually quite a few in use after the bell despite the ban). I gave the class instructions on what they should be doing, and told them that anything requiring technology should be done on the chromebooks I had checked out for their use. I again repeated that students should not have cell phones out for any reason (it’s November but I still have to explicitly state this classroom expectation that has not changed since August). Within the first five minutes, I had to warn EIGHT students to put away their cell phones. By the end of class, TWELVE phones had to be confiscated in a class of 27 students.
 
The next day, it starts all over again. The same kids who were on their phones the day before have to be told again that it’s against the rules, and to put their phones away.
 
Every day, they get angry and offended by being told to put their phones away. The warnings just tell a kid how long he can stay on his phone before the possibility of a minor consequence might occur. It’s exhausting to keep up with. But God forbid you don’t give a warning to that kid that you’ve had to tell to put their phone away every school day for the past four months, because if you don’t then the kid, the parent, and admin will raise hell with you.
 
It doesn’t matter how engaging a lesson is, the kids wouldn’t notice because they’re blasting their music and messaging their friends on snapchat. Every time I tell a kid to put their phone away, every time I call to have their phone taken, I know I’m running the risk of disrupting my class, or setting up a violent reaction. Best case scenario, I’m losing precious minutes of instructional time pursuing a policy that is not working.
 
I don’t have the answers, but this ain’t it.

Signed,
Anonymous HS Teacher

Dear JCPS,

I am scared for the future of Black children in Louisville. School was an empowering experience for me, but my son is treated like a number in a prison. The ClassDojo app is revealing serious implicit bias and I am disappointed at the apathy surrounding the motivation of him and his classmates. I’ve witnessed adults yelling at children on multiple occasions. I’ve witnessed a teacher dragging a child out of a classroom on more than one occasion. I see our advanced children be forced to do”busy work” while exhausted teachers “discipline” other children. I am sad about the state of our schools. We can and we MUST do better for our young people. My son’s school has no PTA. I love the principal and appreciate many of the staff members, but overall I am concerned that our children and being discarded like trash.

~ SM

Board member: Chris Brady

 

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By Gay Adelmann

Dear Kentucky PTA Members and Concerned Citizens,

I am a very engaged public school parent in Jefferson County. I want to warn you about something happening in Lexington this weekend. Kentucky PTA is holding their state convention, and along with it, their officer elections.

Two of the officers running on the nominating committee’s “slate” hail from the 15th District PTA board, which represents Jefferson County. Our district PTA is currently mired in controversy. 

For example, there have been unaddressed reports of excessive Redbook violations, election tampering, inappropriate use/handling of funds. Some active volunteers have been called “uncooperative,” “ineffective,” “disobedient” or “disloyal” when they refused to do the administration’s bidding, even if it went against Redbook or the best interest of their students.

There are a handful of PTA leaders from Jefferson County who have been squatting in some of these positions for a decade or more, cycling through from school to district to state and back, sometimes serving in schools where they don’t have children, pushing out authentic parents who are wanting to serve. They have been making last-minute rule changes in order to shut out parents and volunteers with whom they disagree by extending their own term limits, holding clandestine elections and limiting who can vote. The most recent District PTA elections are an example of this

The current state PTA president, who also hails from Jefferson County as the past president of 15th District PTA, once along with her husband and father held positions on the board simultaneously. Therefore 3 of the votes and 3 of the points of view guiding decision-making came from one shared perspective. Her husband is one of the candidates being challenged on today’s slate.

Our district PTA’s immediate past president, who also served as the state PTA’s nominating committee chair that devised the above slate, is another one of those candidates, and is also being challenged.

Serving as a PTA volunteer leader is an exhausting, thankless job. We are grateful for the service of these leaders, and in fact, I would not be here today if it weren’t for them. However, we feel that our board is no longer reflective of the needs and demographics of our district, and its time to take a different tact.

National PTA is Pro Charter

Perhaps one of the reasons this is happening is that National PTA is pro-charter. And in this climate of charters, vouchers, state takeovers, and SBDM power stripping, we would be naive to dismiss the possibility of pro-charter leaders. I’m not saying that’s what they are, but if they are not, why don’t they have the courage to push back on National PTA for their controversial stance that harms Kentucky children? To educate and inform their members so they can stand up for our children?

From the National PTA website.

I served on the 15th District PTA Board in Louisville from 2014 to 2017. I constantly warned fellow board members about the likelihood of charter school legislation ahead of the 2017 session and the destruction they have caused in other states. In late 2016, I made a motion to simply “educate and inform PTA members about pending charter school legislation.” It passed. However, months went by and no action on this motion was taken by PTA leadership at either the district, state or national level. We weren’t asking them to take a position, just educate! They finally published the National PTA’s position on charters. That’s it. Session ended in March and guess what! The ALEC-backed legislators got their charter school bill through in the final hour on the final day. Don’t you think that might have ended differently if PTA had found some way to advocate for Kentucky’s most vulnerable school children, who will be most harmed by this legislation? Would we still be fighting against vouchers and a funding mechanism this upcoming session? I don’t think so. 

Members Have Another Choice

I and another JCPS mom have decided to run from the floor at this weekend’s election, in order to give members another option. We realize that most parents can’t afford the $75 late registration fee, $129 in hotel costs, ability to take two days off work, etc., so we’re attempting to represent those who cannot be there. We just want you to be aware, get involved, ask questions, and help us ensure PTA is serving all of Kentucky’s children, especially those who don’t have advocates at the table. It’s our moral imperative.

Gay Adelmann is co-founder of Dear JCPS and Save Our Schools Kentucky. Her son, Peyton, graduated from a so-called failing school in the West End of Louisville and is now a senior at the US Naval Academy.