Below is a compilation of letters @Dear_JCPS has published regarding the non-inclusive, discriminatory and bullying behaviors exhibited by leadership at duPont Manual High School to date. This list will continue to be updated as more community members come forward.

In addition, the BSU has called for Mayes’ resignation.

We have been informed that an investigation is taking place. This investigation, however, is not to be confused with the culture audit that is simultaneously being conducted by Roger Cleveland’s group. If you wish to be contacted regarding the investigation, please send an email to moderator@dearjcps.com.

If you wish to send an email to the board and superintendent about your experiences or concerns, you may use this link. Copying Dear JCPS on your email lets them know that we’re also aware of the account, but it does not automatically mean it will be published. If you wish to have it shared, please contact us directly or use our Open Letter Form.

At Dear JCPS, we take your privacy and fear of retribution very seriously. Your submission may remain anonymous, however, to maintain the integrity of our organization, you will be asked to identify yourself prior to posting. Your name and contact information WILL NOT be shared without your permission.

Dear JCPS,

I’m very happy to see the latest post from a Manual parent telling her story that Mayes was a bully and ruled with intimidation, reaching far beyond the African American and LGBTQ school communities. These are exactly the accounts I was referencing in my anonymous posts — LOTS OF US OUT HERE HAVE THINGS TO SAY, but we weren’t allowed to speak out for fear of retaliation.

I hope and pray that JCPS will not allow someone else like this to ever lead a school. Were it not for those brave students who recorded him on tape, there never would have been an investigation in the first place. We would all have continued to live under the authoritarian rule of Mayes with no voices to be heard. The District must listen to students, parents, staff, alums, – EVERYONE – and take us seriously when we have important and legitimate concerns. Therefore, JCPS must learn from this mistake and put in place a system to allow for scared (and anonymous) constituents to blow the whistle on corruption within our schools without the fear of retaliation. When we SEE SOMETHING, we must have a way to SAY SOMETHING. JCPS must put a system in place and let all of us know how to report the misdeeds of school administrations. Give us a phone number of an ombudsman or other designated official, and give us the promise of anonymity. The District owes all of us this, so this sort of improper leadership never happens again. Mayes got away with his nonsense for 5 long years and that is unacceptable.

Concerned Manual Parent

The views expressed here are those of the author. If you or someone you know has a concern, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form

NOTE: While the author’s identity is protected here, they are not anonymous to Dear JCPS. Any board member wishing to address the concerns shared here can contact our administrators to make a connection.

Dear JCPS,

Thank you for your continued support of Dr. Pollio’s wise decision to remove Jerry Mayes from his former position as DuPont Manual’s principal. My child is a current Manual student and was subjected to Mayes’ practice of pulling students out classes to settle issues via intimidation. My child’s experience shows that at times Mayes’ use of these tactics extended beyond racial minorities and students who are LGBT, as my child is of Caucasian decent and doesn’t identify as any of these groups.

In my child’s second year at Manual, my child and another student were the targets of bullying by two other students. This had been reported to one of the Assistant Principals, and he was working diligently to resolve the situation and was maintaining excellent communication about the process with my child and me. For unknown reasons Mr. Mayes involved himself in the situation. His response was to pull all 4 students out of class for a group conference, forcing my child to discuss the situation in front of those who were the alleged bullies. His responses in this meeting clearly indicating that he wasn’t aware of everything that had been reported, wasn’t really interested in hearing any of these 4 students’ accounts of the events, but instead to give a lengthy pontification of his own views and experiences, a large number of which were totally irrelevant to the current issue. After an hour of this, he culminated the meeting by pulling out a stack of school transfer papers and telling these students that these forms could be completed right then if they couldn’t behave and that there were plenty of others students in JCPS who would love to have their spots at Manual.

He never communicated any of this to me, and when I sent him an email expressing my displeasure with how this was handled, he called me and basically said that he understood the situation and that he knew how to handle these matters and that he expected no further issues. I did not appreciate his response of blaming the victim, nor did I appreciate him pulling my child out of a science class that my child was having trouble with for an hour, especially not when it was a week before the final exam and the teacher was reviewing material for the test.

In three years as a Manual student, this is the one and only interaction my child had with Mr. Mayes. I highly doubt he would even recognize my child’s name or face now. But yet he felt that he understood what was going on well enough with my child to threaten a transfer during their very first interaction. It was very, very troubling to me, and the fact that Mr. Mayes remained in charge of Manual for the school year after all of the troubling allegations were made public was even more troubling. My child and I are very relieved and grateful that Senior year will be free of Mr. Mayes ‘leadership by intimidation. Yet even after everything that has happened, I’m still unwilling to tell this story publicly for fear of retaliation against my child.

Manual Parent

The views expressed here are those of the author. If you or someone you know has a concern, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form

NOTE: While the author’s identity is protected here, they are not anonymous to Dear JCPS. Any board member wishing to address the concerns shared here can contact our administrators to make a connection.

Dear JCPS,

Wayne Lewis, “interim” Kentucky Education Commissioner recently stated in the Courier Journal he has “No Agenda” with respect to the takeover of JCPS by his office. However, I have read his 194 page doctoral thesis and it is clear he intends to see the takeover happen. His paper reveals his hostility toward public school systems like JCPS including teachers, administrators and the teacher’s union. He obviously favors charter schools and writes throughout his paper of the difficulties they will face such as getting uncertified teachers into the state retirement system, using “alternate” tests instead of standardized testing, converting existing private schools into charter schools and using money from the state lottery to fund building maintenance and expansion. He explores eliminating racial quotas for students, getting rid of the “cap” on the number of charter schools allowed within the state. He also wants to allow “admissions preferences for some students”. If Mr. Lewis is getting a head start on twisting his words to meet his agenda then imagine what he will do once he is no longer “temporary”.

Bill Michael
Constituent of Board Member Chris Brady

The views expressed here are those of the author. If you or someone you know has a concern, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form

Dear Kentucky Board of Education,

As a public school parent, School Based Decision Making Council Parent Representative, a former PTA President, a 16th District PTA Board Member, and Parent Advocacy Trainer in Fayette County Public Schools, I implore you to NOT takeover the Jefferson County Public School System.

Quite simply, this is an unprecedented attack on Democracy and local control, including the destruction of parent voice and power in JCPS. This is not to say that this is a vote for status quo, but to allow Marty Pollio to continue the good work he is doing within the district.

Please allow the recently elected board members and the newly hired Superintendent to keep the momentum of improvement that is currently happening! Please allow local constituents to retain control over their tax dollars and school governance, through KDE State Assistance and support, NOT through an unnecessary and politically driven takeover of local control!

Respectfully,

Lucy Waterbury

Dear KDE Board members,

I retired from JCPS after 36 years of teaching. I absolutely agree that JCPS has problems, especially in the last few years under Dr. Hargens. However since Dr. Pollio,  I have seen a greater energy and focus in JCPS while visiting my previous school and in discussions with friends from multiple schools.

I implore you to choose State Assistance, giving JCPS a set of goals in which to show improvement. Allow Dr. Pollio time to turn things around. The downward slide took quite a few years, I can already feel the difference in the District.

Taking control of JCPS will not solve the problems. History shows state take overs of Districts create more problems than they solve. If the State will just offer suggestions and give Dr. Pollio time to implement them, I think JCPS can make vast improvements.

Thank you.

 

Cynthia Wetterer
Retired Teacher, JCPS

 

Submit your open letter to the KDE Board and Commissioner using this link on the Save Our Schools Kentucky website. Copies will be posted here.

Dear JCPS,

It seems that when you move to a better neighborhood, your child is forced to go to a school that places them with those that are not within the same neighborhood. The reason why we moved in the East End was to have a nice safe home and schools for our kids. Now we are being forced to move our oldest out of Eastern and our 4.0 GPA middle school turned high schooler in the fall in a school that has not only proven to be unsafe, but understaffed and unruly. I have grown up going to schools like these in my youth, which is the reason why I have avoided it for my children. However, JCPS is seemingly forcing us to go to a school, taking my son out of Eastern for the past two years, and placing him and his sister in an uncomfortable school in which they are not accustom to. Being a black man, I already know the pitfalls some of these schools have for my children, and moving away for the more crime filled areas only to have to have my children deal with it in school makes no sense. I will take my children out of JCPS before they will attend Waggoner or Jeffersontown. Why take a kid out of a school that they have been for the last two years and move them to a completely different environment? This is the reason I favor charter schools as parents have a choice as to what the education and the safety of our children will be. JCPS takes the choice out of the parent’s hands as they know what is best for our kids. This letter is more of outrage of what JCPS decides what’s best foe kids without taking some basic considerations in their decision. I will be appealing and while I wait, sending our particular case to my media friends,,,,

The views expressed here are those of the author, not of Dear JCPS. If you would like to respond, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form

Dear JCPS,

I am in writing this email in support of Mr. Steed. My daughter [Name Withheld] was in the Louisville Best Hood group. I want to express the importance and relevance that this group has had on my child. I am so grateful she had the opportunity to learn real world content. I have heard some of the concerns around a lesson that taught the students of what they would do in an traumatic event around overdosing. I feel strongly saving one life is critical for our young people to learn. Many of our students live in an environment where overdosing is happening on a daily basis. To NOT have these conversations is detrimental to them and their families. In the past, students learned CPR, however in today’s times YES they need to learn how to save a life. We as a district should stop tip toeing around life and death issues. JCPS has for too long been ignoring the issues that affect black and brown communities and data proves this statement. Mr. Steed has been a pillar in many schools with addressing students needs. He should not be punished. His action were not malicious in any way. He should be commended for thinking out side of the box in addressing a societal issue which we all know spills into the classroom. Again I would appreciate your consideration of this email as a parent support letter as well as his colleague. As an educator I have been so excited to know that both of my daughters had him as a teacher. I would recommend any students I know to have him as a teacher. I can recall many students that had him speak highly of him. He is a teacher that develops relationships with all of his students. As anyone in education could state Building Relationship is key in student success and students feeling save and have a sense of belonging. Thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

Have a wonderful day.

[Parent Name Withheld]

Dear JCPS,

As of this writing JCPS has not yet said it will appeal the decision for a takeover by Kentucky government. This is unbelievable. Is there anyone who cannot recognize a “coup d’é·tat” in progress? This could not be working out better for charter schools than if it were planned from the start. Simply make charter schools legal, subject to the approval of the local school board, then take over the school board. Are you ready for your taxes to skyrocket? The takeover will place a billion dollar budget at the disposal of government cronies who are not elected and who do not represent the taxpayers they are going to rob. With generous amounts of public funding to be bled away from public schools, charter schools will be popping up left and right. To this day, no one can explain to me how charter schools are supposed to be better or why JCPS schools cannot be fixed. Interim (temporary) Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who recommended the takeover, is promoting himself right into a lucrative, permanent, top spot with generous government pay and benefits. Taxpayers in Jefferson County should be OUTRAGED at what is unfolding.

Bill Michael
Constituent of Board Member Chris Brady

The views expressed here are those of the author. If you or someone you know has a concern, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form

While everyone in Louisville is focused on Derby, let’s talk about another horse race.  One that’s been rigged for nearly a decade.

When the Supreme Court ruled that districts could no longer use race alone as the determining factor for student assignment, Jefferson County came up with a more elaborate plan. It may have been well-intentioned, and it may have served the majority of students in JCPS, but it left one school in particular out in the cold. That school was the Academy @ Shawnee, in Louisville’s highly segregated and disenfranchised West End. A part of town where residents already suffer from high poverty, high trauma, high gun violence and drug influence, high rates of incarceration, food insecurity, lack of employment, lack of transportation, lack of shopping, higher rates of abandoned homes, and so on. You get the picture.

While other schools used race, educational attainment of parents and zip code to determine which students would attend, and a target between 15% to 50% of families in the most affected tier was achieved, it was necessary for one school to have a much higher concentration of students in poverty in order for the plan to work. The Academy @ Shawnee was the only high school to have a saturation level of 87%.

Its aim is to leave no school with more than half its students from low-income, low-education and high-minority neighborhoods. Except for Shawnee High School. Under the proposal, Shawnee would still draw 87 percent of its students from low-income, low-education and high-minority areas — more than double the rate of any other high school.

Let’s talk about the student assignment map itself. In order to achieve this student assignment plan above, the district had to carve up the neighborhood immediately surrounding Shawnee and assign the students to one of a dozen or so schools around Louisville. Then to fill Shawnee, they had to backfill from the Portland and Highland neighborhoods.

District officials could have created a satellite attendance zone for Shawnee in a more affluent area of Jefferson County to diversify enrollment. But they chose not to.

And if the school had been given the resources and supports, as well as some empathy and latitude when their high-stakes test scores do not keep up with a school like Manual, for example, so that they could focus more on meeting students where they are and less on “keeping up with the Joneses” authentic progress could have been made. But former Superintendent Hargens was tone deaf to those requests, which is why many members of the community, including our organization, pushed for her resignation, as well as the removal of board members who propped up her continued failures. And instead our community elected board members who vowed to hold her accountable and remove her.

If one was paying close attention, they might think this horse race was rigged in order to make Shawnee an ideal sacrificial lamb for a conversion charter school. Bevin told us in December of 2016, there were going to bring Charters to Kentucky and they were going to start in the West End.

Charters are NOT proven to improve outcomes for students of color. However, supports, interventions, smaller class sizes, less emphasis on high stakes tests, early childhood education, and 100 other things are. And on top of that, state law ties the hands of district leaders, forces adults and schools to “compete” for a Hunger Games type situation where the bottom 5% of schools continue to face radical punitive measures if they do not perform well. It’s dog eat dog, so collaboration from a peer at another school is out of the question when you’re both near the bottom. Administrators have lamented how they feel relief when another school fails, because at least it wasn’t them! It’s an awful paradox to put them in.

Why not try removing the unfair handicaps instead of taking JCPS down a path of privatization and even greater opportunities for waste and fraud?