Accountability

Dear JCPS,

I would like to address issues at Jeffersontown Elementary. The culture there is toxic and dysfunctional. The “adults” don’t trust each other or the administration, unless you are in the it club. The principal literally screams at parents who take questions to the board instead of asking her. Well, when you attempt to talk to the principal she NEVER looks up from her phone. She also sits out in the lobby/ main office area on Facebook or texting and ignoring parents who are coming into our building. Within the past 2 weeks we have lost our secretary and bookkeeper. I ask you with the front office completely leaving, the principal basically on her phone all day long and screaming at our parents. Why has the board not ask questions or investigated why the whole front office has had a turn over. Our attendance clerk also left over the summer due to drama.

I’m more concerned that the board is practically ignoring the fact that we’ve lost an attendance Clerk and secretary and a bookkeeper within the past 2 months. I’m also very concerned that their culture there is so toxic that the students notice that teachers don’t speak to each other and the teachers don’t trust each other. I cannot condone or survive in a toxic dysfunctional culture which is what J-Town Elementary has now become. Which is very sad considering what an amazing reputation it had in the past. We are losing students it’s due to the lack of professionalism of the main leadership in the building. I honestly believe that Dr. Hooper or any one from Central office would be appalled if they could see what the true Jtown has become not the dog and pony show they put on when the visits are scheduled. Dr.Hooper because it was his school.

I just want change. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

Sincerely,
Concerned J-Town Elementary Stakeholder

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.

JCPS needs work. No doubt about it!

This is exactly why our community is taking back our district! We welcome state assistance, but we don’t need a state takeover now!

In 2015, we started speaking out against an ineffective superintendent who created a perfect storm for predatory charter schools and scholarship tax credits. We invited the community to submit anonymous letters that sparked the beginning of change in the district leadership. In 2016, we pushed to replace board members with questionable motives with community leaders who were committed to making a change in district leadership. And in 2017, we called for Hargens to resign. And she did! Two years before her contract was set to renew.

For the first time in decades, the new board selected a superintendent who is “one of us,” not another corporate shill recruited by outsiders and “education reformers” with their own agendas. Dr. Pollio understands Louisville’s complex history and challenges and has demonstrated his ability to turn things around. This time it’s different!

A state takeover at this time would undermine the progress currently under way and add yet another layer of bureaucracy to the mix. Any “deal” or compromise outside of existing KRS regulations creates an “unknown” scenario that could potentially:

• Take decision-making power away from elected board members
• Take SBDM and local decision-making ability away from schools
• Allow decisions that could resegregate our schools
• Put teachers’ contracts and pensions in further jeopardy
• Pull funding from our struggling public schools
• Pave the way for a predatory, profit-driven charter school agenda that’s been in the works for nearly a decade

Gov. Matt Bevin, newly appointed KBE Chair Hal Heiner and interim KDE Commissioner Wayne Lewis, and others, have been working behind the scenes since at least 2011 to pave the way for out-of-state investors to profit from our public schools. They’ve shown us their true intentions with our district. If we compromise with them now, they’ll keep coming back for more! Learn more about the real agenda at www.dearjcps.com/exposed.

Our JCPS board meets again this Friday night at 5:15 PM where they may vote whether to accept a compromise with the commissioner. Contact your board member, and tell them we will stand with them as they stand up for us!

The Public Has A Right to Know!
These folks in Frankfort have been working with wolves-in-sheep’s clothing in our community, pretending they want to close the achievement gaps for black and brown students. Yet, these are the same people who supported the gang violence bill and sales tax increases to fund pensions! They have resources to assist with directly aiding problems of community (homelessness, home repair, equitable housing), yet they CHOOSE NOT TO!

They have prejudices about our minority and low-income families’ struggles. Stereotypes we know are not true. They privatized prisons to make maximum profits off black and brown people and now they want to do the same for our schools, feeding the pipeline to prison even faster! This tactic is called “disaster capitalism.” Yet this is a disaster THEY created! We want JCPS to focus on educating our kids. These outsiders would rather force our district to manufacture widgets!

The entire Louisville community is finally paying attention. Now is our chance to hold district leaders accountable and expose this hidden agenda by outsiders!
This state takeover was led by folks who did not attend public schools and most of their kids never attended, either. Yet, they know how to fix our broken school system? We don’t need more of their “solutions!”

They may have denied us a hearing but that doesn’t stop us from  and see what’s going on for ourselves!

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 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

Dear JCPS,

I am the Robotics instructor at Newburg Middle School.

I will tell you that Newburg is undefeated in VEX IQ robotics this year and we’re representing Kentucky and the USA at VEX Worlds next week.

Our Math and Reading scores are 34% and 37% respectively on state assessments, yet we have beaten all other middle schools in the state in robotics. Based on our scores, most people would not think this was possible. That is because these state tests are not accurate assessments of what kids in a school can do. I can guarantee that from first hand knowledge.

Our kids have been successful because over the last two years my school has secured over $35,000 through grants and donations to build a robotics and engineering program. Now my kids can be successful because they are exposed to the material and the technology. Our robot to student ratio is 1:2.

Any school can do what we’ve done IF we can get proper funding for our public schools. State tests are NOT reliable performance reviews and they need to STOP being used to measure a school’s success.

JCPS Teacher

Dear JCPS,

I am a parent of four JCPS students who is deeply concerned about academic achievement and about school discipline methods and especially about the disparities in these areas for students of color and students with disabilities. Do I think JCPS has work to do? Yes. Do I think a state takeover is the way to do it? No. Here’s why:

National data on the effectiveness of state takeovers has failed to show that this is an effective model for improving a district. An analysis from the Pew Charitable Trust found no clear-cut evidence that this type of intervention leads to better student performance or fiscal management.1 A study from Rutgers University found that while they may yield more gains in central office management, student achievement often falls short.2 A Vanderbilt University study of state takeovers in the state of Tennessee found that schools that remained in the local school district outperformed similar schools that were taken over by state government.3

Furthermore, examination of such takeovers in New Orleans and Detroit found that such takeovers had harmful effects on students of color and students with special needs. In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit against New Orleans’ Recovery School District (RSD), presenting evidence that the rights of more than 4,500 special needs students had been violated because the state did not insure that they had equal access to educational services. According to the lawsuit that was eventually settled in 2015, special needs students faced discriminatory enrollment practices, difficulties accessing adequate evaluation services and illegal discipline for manifestations of symptoms of students’ disabilities.4

In Michigan’s state-run Education Achievement Authority, more than 6000 suspensions were issued for a student population of 10,000, more than 60% of which were for minor infractions such as truancy, insubordination and disorderly conduct, with suspension rates for students of color disproportionately higher.5

In the two hours of research I did on state takeovers, I could not find a single report or article that cited real data that showed that state takeovers are more successful than other interventions. So why should JCPS parents, teachers, administrators and community supporters possibly want this action taken?

The Center for Popular Democracy, in its report on state takeovers of low-performing schools, notes that in many cases, when states do this, they do so after first failing to meet their own constitutional obligation to provide a district with adequate resources for students to be given a fair and substantive opportunity to learn.

According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, funding for education in Kentucky was reduced 5.9% from 2008-2015 and per-pupil funding in Kentucky has dropped 15.8% from 2008 to 2018, making Kentucky one of the 12 states with the deepest cuts for K-12 education since 2008.6 So why should the state, which one could argue, has failed to meet their constitutional obligation to resource the district adequately, now be able to infringe on local citizens’ democratic rights by taking over the district?

Finally, this board newly appointed by Bevin is comprised mostly of people who have no experience with public schools. In fact, some may have a vested interest in seeing public schools fail to make way for charter schools. So how can we trust them to act in what is the best interest of our public school students? Even if their motives are pure, how many of these board members have actual experience working with our most marginalized students who struggle to achieve academically? What knowledge and experience do they have in closing achievement gaps for public school students? If this is really their goal, why did they remove an education commissioner who actually had classroom experience and extensive knowledge in this area, and was given a glowing recommendation by the board four months before he was removed?

As a JCPS parent, I will continue to push JCPS to provide a better education and appropriate discipline fairly and equitably for all students. But who should I trust to oversee this work? A newly appointed state Board of Education filled with people with no public school experience and a vested interest in charter schools? Or our own democratically elected school board and new superintendent who has experience with our district and a vested interest in seeing it succeed? I’m going with door number 2.

Cindy Cushman
JCPS Parent


1 Mitchell, Corey. 2016. “Study Raises Questions About State Takeovers of Districts.” Education Week.
2 http://ielp.rutgers.edu/docs/developing_plan_app_b.pdf
3 R. Zimmer, A. Kho, G. Henry, and S. Viano, “Evaluation of the Effect of Tennessee’s Achievement School District
on Student Test Scores.” December 2015. Available
http://www.tnconsortium.org/data/files/gallery/ContentGallery/ASD_ Impact_Policy_Brief_Final_12.8.15.pdf.
Accessed January 3, 2015.
4 Dreilinger, Danielle. 2013. “Unrelenting New Orleans Special Education Problems Alleged in New Court Filings.”
The Times-Picayune.
5 The American Federation of Teachers, “State Takeovers of Low-Performing Schools and School Systems Are Not
the Answer: Evidence from Louisiana and Michigan.”
6 Leachman, Masterson, and Figueroa. (November, 2017). “A Punishing Decade for School Funding.” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/a-punishing-decade-for-school-funding