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

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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. 

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?

We Demand a Fair and Transparent PTA Officer Election in Jefferson County, KY!

Jefferson County’s district-wide PTA (15th District PTA), as well as Kentucky and National PTA, need to hear from you!

Sign the petition here.

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This section is updated regularly. To have your examples and concerns added, please forward them to moderator@dearjcps.com.

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Live-streaming from tonight’s @JCPSKY board meeting. Speakers from the floor.

Posted by Dear JCPS on Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The current climate of Kentucky and JCPS schools has been changing, in ways that can be positive for the future of our students. More parents, guardians, and students are speaking up every day to be involved and included in the decisions that affect our families’ lives. We’re seeking to create an environment where every voice included, welcomed and encouraged. This climate is creating an amazing revival in family involvement. Now Dear JCPS is taking our focus to the 15th District PTA Elections.

For the first time ever in the 15th District, there were enough parents wanting to be serve on the Executive Board that there were challengers to several positions. In this first test of how a “delegate” plan for managing contested elections works during the 2019 15th District PTA Elections, there were several issues that we would like to have addressed and changed for future elections. Our purpose, that should be shared by all, is to create the most fair and balanced system possible to elect a board that reflects the needs and experiences of all students in JCPS.

The current system for becoming a candidate for office for 15th District PTA is: a nominating committee of 5 existing members of the current/outgoing 15th District PTA Board for that year take applications from all interested candidates for that year’s election. From those who turn in paperwork to run for office on the Board, only one person per position is presented as a “slate” candidate and is put forth as the preferred choice of the current Board. Candidate applicants that are denied the opportunity to run on the ballot, or who miss the original application deadline, have a second option to run at this point. They can request to run ‘from the floor.’

At the time of voting, “slate” candidates received favorable treatment above the candidates running from the floor and were printed in a bold font compared to the plain lettering of other candidates. In addition, “The candidates in bold indicate they are the 15th District PTA Slate chosen by the Nominating Committee.” was included in the official ballot directions.

The actual ballot can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/15thDistrictPTA/posts/2663533500357764

Considering the barriers that make adding new voices to the ongoing and important discussions about how to best educate our kids, the following changes are requested for consideration to existing bylaws laid out in Article XII of the 15th District PTA :

  • Allow all qualified candidates who complete the application process for an elected office of the 15th District PTA to run for the office of their choice but limited to a reasonable number as to be determined by further discussion. If the scenario should occur that more than the predetermined number of eligible candidates wish to run for any particular position a committee comprised from schools under the elected office position in question may narrow down the candidate field for that position to the number limited on the ballot. This will ensure that every candidate receives equal and fair treatment in how they are presented for consideration by voting members and eliminates unfair advantages created by the current guidelines.
  • In creating a more fair and balanced election process, a secondary advantage is in further streamlining the election process is through elimination for the necessity of “floor positions.” We would move that one single window of 14 days be created in which applications can be submitted, with submissions closed at the end of that 14 day period.
  • To ensure that all members of the PTA are included in the decisions affecting their students, we move that at a period no later than 30 days prior to the application period opening all possible efforts are made to inform 15th District PTA families than elections are coming up, including and not limited to : call and text systems, social media, email, letters sent home with students. This will create optimal participation, which is the goal to guarantee all students are represented to the best of our abilities. This addresses a concern we have seen voiced by several parents that the majority of the families for the District are unaware of elections to begin with.  
  • Initiate and create a process to ensure all efforts for diversity in 15th District PTA board to better reflect representation for all students. 54% of the 98,361 current JCPS students identify as non-Caucasian. With the candidates who were presented as preferred by the Nominating Committee, this was in no way reflected. This is a reflection the failure in our current system as  whole to both recruit a wider and diverse pool of candidates and allow minority candidates the right to be chosen by fair election process of their peers to office.

The process for voting until the 2019 15th District PTA elections has always been done by vocal vote, in accordance to written bylaws. The change to a written ballot in this year’s election was due to the sole fact that for the first time there are candidates challenging those chosen by the members of a current/outgoing Board on the Nominating Committee. With this, bylaws limiting the way and number of people allowed to vote in the election were enacted to cover this scenario. Only 5 delegates per the 169 schools in the 15th District PTA were allowed at maximum to vote, along with a vote to each of the current Board members.

We heard from many PTA members that they had not been informed of the voting process at all, and were only made aware from sources outside of the PTA. This was combined with the fact that the announcement that a deadline for a finalized list of delegates allowed to vote from each school was made only 10 days prior to the deadline. Out of over 850 potential voters per current bylaws, only 168 delegates were named in time to be allowed to vote and out of that only 114 people cast ballots. This means that out of a reported (per JCPS) 27,674 15th District PTA membership, only a limited and select number of people constituting less than half of 1% of all members were able to fairly represent their wishes by voting. There were other multiple issues and concerns reported during the process for voting not limited to:

  • Members who wanted to be delegates and allowed to vote, to be told that their school delegate selections were already filled and that they would not be able to.
  • Most commonly that efforts made to let 15th District PTA members know that a vote was taking place in the first place was not effective, leaving the majority of members unaware there was an election. To ensure this does not occur again, we request that all efforts to inform all members of each Board election along with voting opportunities be made a period no later than 14 days prior to the election date, including and not limited to: call and text systems, social media, email, letters sent home with students.
  • Many schools submitting zero delegates with the lack of communication for all members and time constraints, therefore having absolutely no say in the future of the 15th District PTA leadership and direction.  
  • Only allowing a maximum of 5 delegates per school selected at the sole discretion of one person in each individual (the PTA President of that school) does not allow a for a fair and accurate reflection of the wishes for all 27,674 members of the 15th District PTA.
  • Reports from registered delegates who were able to cast ballots feeling uncomfortable that current Board members and candidates were present in the same space where written votes were cast due to the lack of privacy while voting. We move to request that for all future elections all ballots be cast to the level of seclusion given for example as in the way a government polling station provides during election.
  • There were comments from delegates that voted who felt uncomfortable that members of the current Board had contact with ballots after a numbers were assigned and a list was generated to match ballots to the names of voters. We therefore request that once numbered ballots and corresponding lists of names are generated in future elections, that both are sealed until the time voting is open and only be handled by a neutral party not serving on that current board once sealed, unless a challenge resulting for the necessity for validate the votes are required or they are destroyed. This will protect the integrity of total anonymity in voting and concerns voiced that other PTA and Board members have the ability to see how an individual votes and therefore cause potential influence on how a vote is cast.

Beyond specific actions listed, we are calling for the voting process to be remade in a way that all members have a voice, not a select few. To make this a more fair and balanced process, we request that all meetings exploring ways this can resolved to the satisfaction of the majority of 15th District PTA membership be conducted as open and public, with all eligible members being granted the opportunity to attend and speak if they wish to.

In addition to the problems we have discovered that the current election guidelines create, there were several challenges specific to the candidates of this election that we would like to address. In the spirit of inclusion and fairness to all members, beyond our primary request and demand that the election process be updated in order to best reflect the true wishes of all 15th District PTA members we would like for it be taken into consideration that the election results from May 7th 2019 be set aside. We would request like any future changes we are asking for that all efforts be made to remove the biases created on the ballot itself by promoting some candidates over others to voters, along with addressing the specific candidate issues listed below and the serious failure to ensure adequate representation reflecting the diversity and totality of our District PTA membership was made in the representation of voters. Issues specific to this election and candidates included:

  • In the confusion and chaos created by utilizing “floor nominations” for the first time, a candidate who requested to run from the floor for the VP 5 position was instead placed on the ballot against another candidate also running from the floor and the candidate chosen and promoted over the floor candidates in VP 4. Not only did this give gross disadvantage to both floor candidates over any other as votes were likely split between them when they would not have been in the first place resulting in a far less chance of success, it gave advantage to the chosen slate candidate as this pretty much created an issue of canceling out votes that both would have gone to both women. Even more grevious of an offense, this also nearly guaranteed the elimination of half the minority candidates running for the Board before a single ballot was ever even cast.
  • After the final delegates were published, a set of new bylaws were passed to specifically prevent a floor candidate from being allowed to take office without completing a punitive and non-transparent appeals process, even if that candidate had won their race for President Elect. These requirements essentially guaranteed that this position would be won by one candidate, the one chosen by the current/outgoing Board members of the Nominating Committee to become the new President Elect.
  • Rules were enforced inconsistently. For example, a requirement for a form ID along with a PTA membership card was stated for the first time to be allowed to vote in the May 7th 2019 election, deterring some people that may have wanted the ability to vote but not in possession of both and ID and membership card. At the actual voting site, these 2 items that a member was required to produce on site before being allowed to cast a ballot was only checked for some delegates and not all voters.

In conclusion, we as members of the 15th District PTA are petitioning to address and correct a very long list of problems and concerns that have proven to be issues the way the current election process is written, now and in the future. The best way to ensure that the needs of all students in JCPS are best reflected and executed is to create a system that is inclusive of all members in choosing their leadership and direction of the future of our District organization. The more widespread and diverse parental involvement we have in our schools, the better the outcomes for ALL students. We urge you to sign this petition and share to send a message to the 15th District PTA Board that you share these concerns and believe that all member voices should be counted and heard, not those of just a small, established percentage.

Dear JCPS:

Why are you so reluctant to allow parents in schools? Within the past one and one half years, parental involvement, especially my own involvement at my children’s school, has dramatically been decreased, cut, sliced, diced into practically nothing. From 2010 to until early 2018, I personally volunteered (at least) over one thousand hours per school year at my children’s school. I assisted with the car pool, PTA  and school functions, sweeping the cafeteria floor after breakfast, to name a few. Nothing was beneath me because I really enjoyed being part of the school. I even had parents come up to me asking about the school as some of the parents assumed that I worked for the school. I did politely tell the parents that I did not work for the school but that I was a parent volunteering at the school. 

I felt so proud to be part of my children’s school  that I even took a third shift job so as to be even more available when needed for any volunteer opportunities which may have come up at my children’s school. As I have said previously, I really enjoyed volunteering at my children’s school and developing rapport with teachers, students and parents was and still is (when given the rare opportunity by the school principal) very rewarding. When asked to the principal by myself, why I was being “singled out” or “pushed out” , the principal noted that I “Was a liability”. When I asked the principal to further explain, I was denied a straight answer. When I proceeded to go up the “chain of command” at JCPS, I kept getting the same response “His/her school (referring to the principal), his/her rules.”


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What did I do to ostracize myself from the school administrator? Could it be retaliation from the principal from when I made an ethics complaint against the principal due to the principal’s failure to correct an error that a check from a fundraiser was inadvertently made payable to the school instead of the PTA. The principal was asked repeatedly by myself (for a period of four months), to call the fundraiser and to correct the error. With less than one week to go before the check was to be void, I made the complaint and within forty eight hours after filing the complaint, my volunteer status at the school was now a “liability”. 

Again, how may I ask that I am a liability? I am trained in “active shooter response” as well as certified in first aid and CPR. I also have a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in social work. I have no criminal record history and I have worked for the same employer for almost thirty three years. I have excellent references to match my qualifications to, in my opinion, volunteer for JCPS. So, please if you will, answer my earlier question, why are you so reluctant to allow parents in schools? 

Signed

“Left outside parent”

The views expressed here are those of the author, submitted via email at moderator@dearjcps.comor 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.

Obstacles in PTA election appear to oppress voices of people like me. Protect JCPS integrity. I have done my part. Will you do yours?

Dear JCPS:

Our city boasts about being a compassionate city. In my humble opinion, that means that we care about all people and when we have policies in place, then careful consideration has been taken to ensure the equitable treatment of all people. On May 7, 2019, I went to the PTA election to place my vote as a paid member. It appeared to me that obstacles had been put in place to oppress the voices of some, especially people like me. For example, I had not received my PTA card; however, my name was on the list as a delegate. So, I was told that I could not vote without my card when I had been assured that my card would be present when I arrived to vote. I was hassled about not having my card and then told that the school where I have membership had not submitted their dues. Finally, after consulting with the PTA lawyer and some other people, whom I did not know, I was finally able to vote. From my understanding, there were white members who came without their membership card or with blank membership cards and they were not hassled at all. They were pleasantly greeted and allowed to vote. This is not compassionate! This is not fairness! It is shameful that I as a Black person still have to fight for my right to vote in 2019!

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In addition, the ballot contained names that were highlighted and other names that were not, which is an injustice in and of itself. All names should have been presented in the same font without any names bolded. As a teacher, I am well aware of what bolded text means. We teach our students that bolded text indicates emphasis; therefore, certain names were emphasized while others were de-emphasized. This does not allow all candidates to be treated fairly and equitably.

Next, I saw one of my former church members in the parking lot. She had been ostracized from the building because, supposedly, there was a screenshot taken of her saying that the PTA was corrupt. If she did say this, what happened to freedom of speech! She was not infringing on the rights of others. She was simply exercising her freedom and was told that she could not oversee the vote count on behalf of the candidates running from the floor because she was not “neutral” because of this claim.

My question is where are we really as a school system? And by associating with organizations that are not fair and equitable what are we teaching our children?? JCPS’ ethical policy states that when associates of JCPS are doing things that could embarrass JCPS, then these things should be addressed and it is the responsibility of everyone associated with JCPS to address these things. I have done my part by bringing these things to the table. How will you do your part of protecting the integrity of JCPS.

Sincerely,

Anonymous Black Teacher

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.

Dear JCPS:

I am a parent of four boys in JCPS but today I am discussing my experience with one son that previously was a student at XXXXX and I currently have a 1st grader that my husband and I have decided to transfer out for the upcoming 2019-20 school year.

During my four years at XXXXX it has been a challenge from the beginning. The Teachers do not like you in the classroom and it was to the point that I had to explain to the Teacher as his Mother it is essential for kids to see their parents in the school. During field trips yet again you had to twist arms to be included. The holiday parties parents were never welcomed and the excuse was they didn’t have room for you or they didn’t want you to see the kids with issues. It was not welcoming at all.

Dr. XXXXX told me instead of complaining I needed to volunteer and change it! I began to do so. I joined the PAC, SBDM, FRC and eventually became XXXXX’s PTA President. These many hats helped me to gain insight of the climate of the school and was the only way I was able to forcefully but politely become involved as much as I could.

This is where all the problems truly occurred. The minute I asked Staff for PTA membership and to assist in PTA family and school activities the Staff was very offended and felt that wasn’t their responsibility but it was only to Teach. Yes! I agree they are only Teachers but we were a four member board that was determined to offer a low income, poverty stricken the same offerings as any school with a higher income would receive.

Mostly, I received harsh criticism and as supportive as Dr. XXXXX, the current Principal, at XXXXX was, it didn’t help. The Teachers felt the need to begin anonymous calls to 15th district which caused an investigation to occur and was found the money was ALL accounted to be in order. The Teachers that spend more awake time with our kids would not speak, including some Administration as well. My fibromyalgia doctor offered to come to Career Day and I was told they would contact me but never did. How many doctors would take off to do community work for a school? How many schools hate a Parent that much that they wouldn’t use him? They would ban together and throw away flyers, intentionally not support so they thought many activities would flop. Of course, it made it rough for us and we didn’t make alot of money but we did things right. The activities always was a blessing to the families! We had zero complaints from families. When in-school functions occurred they would leave us alone and we would have to try our best to get Parents that had no Parental Involvement to assist us. We relied heavily on our families. We also sought out help from Frost/ Stuart PTA would bring kiddos, Valley, PRP and Doss students needing community help hours.

My husband was the basketball coach for two years and he dealt with resistance and trying to find ways to sabotage the games by threatening to punish the kids. Also, I think out of all the lack of support, nastiness, in-your-face arguments, to the point I no longer feel my son could truthfully thrive there. How can I now not trust my son’s school.

Lastly, the worst of all was on November 9, 2018, while yet again trying to do something fun and free, was our schools 1st ever XXXXX Dance. This morning, my former Treasurer, was accused by a Teacher of trying to run her over in the parking lot. This situation was attempted to be handled in house but this Teacher that despised our PTA states the apology my Treasurer email and even was instructed by Dr. XXXXX to say in his presence and she did. Later, she says that wasn’t good enough. She simply slipped her feet on wet road and her life and family life was forever changed. Ultimately, her 13 years at XXXXX is now gone and her kids she states is scarred by this. She will be homeschooling her current kindergartner and fifth grader. It led to depression and other medical issues.

To add the biggest punch of all during the dance I was popping popcorn, became ill and ultimately made it outside on the concrete and had a heart attack. I have never had any cardiac issues. I am so thankful for my former Treasurer, My Mom who is a former Teacher, XXXXXX XXXXXXX, who volunteers all the time. Also, about five volunteers showed up and Dr. XXXXX was there to keep it going while I left by ambulance with the fire dept assistance.

When I returned the Teachers would turn their backs and still do. The few I did bond with no longer speak. Why should my son have to move his school because these women felt they had a sense of entitlement and they care less what happen to me or my family. Why should I have to stop serving such a wonderful set of families? I had to because my family, friends and the Principal felt my time is up. I can no longer continue to fight. Yes, it is still hard but I see now how some JCPS Teachers, Administrators as well as 15th District can turn their back on you.

I was a former PTA President at XXXXXXX for four years and XXXXX for 2 years. Due to my heart attack I was asked by [15th District PTA President] to put in my resignation since I wasn’t coming back. The Board was only left with my VP because my Secretary left with me due to the toxic environment. I talked to [15th District PTA President] about this and she promised she would make sure these kids had a nice rest of the year. She requested three ideas and I told her I would do whatever is asked of me to help the transition along.

It hasn’t happened. She was dishonest to me. They decided that [15th District PTA President] would be XXXXX’s President, [KY State PTA President] would be the Vice President and the parent that was left on the board. This was the current XXXXX Elementary PTA. The problem with this I should have realized that the agenda wasn’t for the XXXXX kids when they had no kids at the school and my conversation always was Pro- Teacher. [15th District PTA President] felt that Dr. XXXXX pitted the PTA board and the Staff against one another. I quickly corrected her.

What bothered me as a volunteer for 15th District is I never heard from them after the complaints and accusations rolled in by XXXXX Staff to cause havoc. I was told anonymously by someone that knew my character from 15th District. When I was home recuperating from the heart attack there was not a whisper until mid January when a Teacher contacted [15th District PTA President] and told her that she heard I resigned. Yes, it was an agreement in conversation with Dr. XXXXX because that toxicity would ultimately continue and this would not be safe for me.

My experience with [KY State PTA President] was nothing at all! I never have had a personal conversation from her. I received a call from her staff stating she heard some things and needed my books via call. When I asked for clarification she was too busy. My board knew we were ok based on books but the bias due to the state Kentucky was in with the way she treated us was very unprofessional. We were set to have a joint meeting even after my heart attack because the school still wanted to hound me with complaints. [15th District PTA President] told me it was because the PTA did the spirit wear, snow cones and fundraiser. I told her on the phone that this was ludicrous because what PTA doesn’t do it! Plus, all our fundraising went straight to KPREP!

It was an excuse to control and be a school that all is ran by Staff. What is it now! Exactly, what we feared. Now, the kids are not doing anything and the money is feeding the Staff repeatedly and select agendas that should have already been paid for is being wasted.

Why am I not allowed to volunteer when I ask? Why was I not allowed to be a delegate to vote in the PTA election when I asked? Why was I quietly removed from the SBDM and told my time was up? Why do the children and families spend their hard-earned money for two years and not one thing has been done for them but only to take money from them? I was yelled at in meetings, felt threatened and treated like I didn’t belong. The saddest part is they deserve more and their goal is to keep Parents clueless. They don’t know how to fight for their kids. How many more schools treat their Parents this way? I am learning I am not the only one. We wonder why our children are in the condition they are in.

A sad Day, Mrs. XXXXXXX XXXXXXXX

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.

Were you interested in voting in the 15th District PTA Officer Elections on May 7, but found the new Delegate Selection Process restrictive or cumbersome? Were you told you were not selected? Were you turned away? We want to hear from you!

Some last-minute rule changes have been making it more difficult for some PTA members to vote for their preferred candidates for 15th District PTA Executive Board this election cycle. Please report any anomalies by completing the questions below.

  • If your reply was sent via email, please forward a copy of the conversation to moderator@dearjcps.com.
    If you let us know before May 3, we can try to connect you with PTAs that don't have all 5 of their slots taken up.

Based on your responses, you will receive follow up information about next steps, where applicable. Thank you for participating.