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The following email was sent to Dear JCPS. We are publishing it with permission from the author, amid what appears to be emerging as a systemic and pervasive pattern of discrimination that has been allowed to fester in a number of our schools under the previous administration. By sharing this former Manual student’s testimony with our followers, our hope is that this type of behavior can be eliminated from our schools once and for all, so no other students or staff will be subjected to similar treatment. Dear JCPS encourages JCPS to take swift action and send a clear message that discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated.

 

Dear JCPS,

I wasn’t initially planning on sharing my experiences with Mr. Mayes, as I didn’t want to come off as whining, and most of the issues I had with him were relatively minor when compared to the recent revelations. However, they do show a pattern of disrespect towards non-Christians, women and minorities. Ignoring “minor” incidents is precisely how people get away with behavior like his for so long; people don’t want to rock the boat, so many small stories go untold. I apologize for the disorganized, stream-of-consciousness nature of this e-mail, but it is what it is.

I initially knew Coach Mays as the head football coach while I played at DuPont Manual, and, initially, he was always nice to me. He worked hard to foster a sense of family among the players, and came across as a good, if not somewhat “set-in-his-ways” person. However, as I later learned, once he no longer thinks of you as “useful”, his attitude changes. I eventually left the football team, and did not play my senior year, because, among other things, I saw some of his bullying behavior towards other students.

He had a habit of giving nicknames to children and refusing to use their actual name despite repeated requests. Sometimes the names themselves were innocuous (he called my wife “Liz” despite repeated requests that he call her “Elizabeth”), and sometimes they were offensive on their face (he called a friend of mine who took his biology class “Mr. Lipid”; implying that he was fat). But the actually offensiveness of the names is largely irrelevant, it was the disrespect he showed his students by refusing to stop.

He would frequently tell students that he didn’t “believe” in evolution, but that he was being forced, as a biology teacher, to teach it. He would often have christian students bring their bibles in so as to teach the “truth” (i.e. that the textbooks were lies, and that the Christian creation story was the only real truth).

He frequently made sexist and homophobic jokes to the football players; I am somewhat ashamed that I didn’t call him on them then, but I was a student, and he was an authority figure. I can recall one time, on the bus to play against Seneca, he made some comment about finding a strip club, and as we passed the Toy Tiger, I said, “Well, there’s a club there,” and his response was “what are you, gay?”. The whole team seemed to get a great kick out of that one. He, several times, took me aside and said that I wasn’t keeping with the “team spirit” because I would not participate in pre-game prayers

After I left the football team, he called me at work (I worked at McDonalds at the time) to tell me that I was making a huge mistake, and that I would never amount to anything as I was a “quitter”, and I was “ungrateful” for all that “he had done for me”. He was loud enough that my coworkers could hear him yelling through the phone.

Shortly thereafter, I was given the first and only suspension of my school career, because he didn’t like the bleacher I had chosen to sit on for a pep rally. There was nothing special about that seat, I was sitting there because it was the next available one. However, he saw it as an affront to his authority, so he yelled at me for a few minutes through the bullhorn, in front of the entire gathered class, and had Big Gene escort me out.

All in all, these are, individually, small issues, and I am still afraid that I come off as whining, but I do think that they establish a pattern of behavior.

— Former Manual Student

The views expressed here are those of the author. Because a copy of this email was also sent to district leaders, its contents are a matter of public record, subject to discovery under the Kentucky Open Records Act. We share it with our followers because transparency and accountability within our district remain our primary focus. If you or someone you know has had a similar experience with leadership in a JCPS school, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form.

The following email was sent to Dear JCPS. We are publishing it with permission from the author, amid what appears to be emerging as a systemic and pervasive pattern of discrimination that has been allowed to fester in a number of our schools under the previous administration. By sharing this former Manual student’s testimony with our followers, our hope is that this type of behavior can be eliminated from our schools once and for all, so no other students or staff will be subjected to similar treatment. Dear JCPS encourages JCPS to take swift action and send a clear message that discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated.

Dear JCPS,

If I might offer another opinion in the discussion over Principal Mayes, I would like to say that he and I are the same age and we grew up in a Louisville that was just emerging from a drunken
Bacchanalia of segregation and homophobia. I was indoctrinated, programmed, hard-wired in a culture that everyone now finds appalling, offensive, racist, insensitive: barely beyond the primitive first step of Brown v. Board, and LONG before LGBTQ could even dream of being open about the truth they were living in secret – and I attended Louisville public schools in which my generation began to adjust to a new day. I attended Atherton in the day when the Rebel mascot was a confederate soldier: only in my senior year, did we realize those days were over, and belonged in the past. We changed the confederate Rebel to a Minuteman. Can you believe that? It wasn’t so long ago. I believe Principal Mayes is working from a place of good intentions, but perhaps is, like I, still struggling under the weight of the recent, and pretty gruesome past. I can’t speak for his experiences, but I have had the experiences of living for a few years in Africa, Harlem (Sugar Hill), and Hollywood – and I believe a few of the scales have fallen from my eyes. These racial/lgbtq bootcamps (for me) have helped me grow, but that has taken time and effort on my part. I believe my prejudices and biases – which I received in Louisville in my mother’s milk, so to speak – are not cured, but I like to think they are in remission.

My experience with Principal Mayes is that there has never been malice in his mistakes – or what I perceive as his missteps. I would tend to err on the side of charity, as I remember clearly the times in which I grew up – but my experiences have not been those of the other letter writers.

Sincerely,
Dr. Randolph Wieck
teacher, duPont Manual

 

The views expressed here are those of the author. We share it with our followers because transparency and accountability within our district remain our primary focus. If you or someone you know has had a similar experience with leadership in a JCPS school, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form.

Below is the statement that was shared by @JCPSKY Board Member Chris Kolb at the 11/7/17 school board meeting. We are posting it here with his permission. Dear JCPS is collecting opinion letters regarding the JTown incident and SROs in schools, and we will be posting a compilation of them over the coming days. Click here to submit your open letter.

We encourage an open and respectful dialogue on this topic so that the district will be in a position to make the best decisions possible regarding the safety and well-being of our students, ALL students, including those who are most susceptible to the pipeline to prison.


From Chris Kolb
JCPS Board of Education
Member, District 2

Unlike almost everyone else in the city, I have had the ability to watch the video of the entire series of incidents at J-Town High School in their entirety. There are five different video cameras that captured different pieces of the event.

In this case, there was a completely routine altercation between two students in the cafeteria. No punches were ever thrown. The sum total of the physical contact between the two students is one push. The altercation between the two students is something that happens every single day in high schools all over the country. Should kids push each other and argue in an aggressive way? No. Are kids inevitably going to push each other and argue with each other? Yes.

Shortly after this push between the students, one of the J-Town (non-SRO) police officers rapidly escalated the situation, thereby creating a huge disturbance that put several hundred children at risk. Had that officer not inserted himself into the situation, I am completely confident that school staff would have kept the situation under control and de-escalated the tension, as they are very experienced in doing.

Law enforcement is only supposed to intervene when there are laws being broken, not in routine disciplinary matters. This officer clearly violated JCPS regulations by involving himself in a disciplinary matter. The officer’s actions were completely uncalled for and he put kids and JTown staff at risk. The Board of Education approves all contracts with law enforcement, and I will be advocating that the Board cancel our contract with the J-Town police because they violated the contract and, in so doing, put kids and staff at risk.

Definitive research into school discipline tells us that law enforcement in schools is like a security blanket. They make some people feel safer but they don’t actually make the school safer. For instance, one of the speakers at the Board meeting on Nov 7 who works at J-Town related that there are multiple doors open to the school that allow unauthorized people into the building. This is at a school with an SRO. I’m afraid I have to ask, if the SRO can’t even make sure the doors are locked, how effective are SROs? When law enforcement is in a school, we tend to neglect other more important aspects of security, thinking, “The cop is here so if anything happens they’ll take care of it.”

Our agreement with the J-Town Police Department emphasizes that law enforcement in our schools are there to create positive relationships between students and law enforcement. It’s difficult for me to imagine how having police in schools will create a more positive experience for many of the students who had a taser aimed at them or witnessed their friend being slammed to the floor without provocation, pushed, and shoved by J-Town PD officers.

Many people have asked, don’t we have to hold kids accountable for disruptive behavior? Absolutely. But we also have to recognize that kids are going to be disruptive. Some more than others. They’re kids. And there are proven ways to hold kids accountable for disruptive or violent behavior that do not rely on overly harsh and violent mechanisms that rely on excluding kids from school through classroom removals or out-of-school suspensions. Thankfully, Dr. Pollio sees the value in these mechanisms and is fully supportive of them. More importantly, however, what message are we sending about accountability if we completely fail to hold adults accountable for extremely poor and reckless decisions. Incomprehensibly, the J-Town Chief of Police concluded in a matter of a few hours that an investigation into the incident at J-Town was not even necessary, eliminating even the possibility of accountability. This is an inexcusable act of negligence and JCPS simply cannot do business with an organization that does not value accountability. If we did, what message would we be sending kids about accountability?

The sad and predictable irony of having law enforcement in schools is that they often cause the very problems they are ostensibly there to prevent. In this case, extra J-Town officers had been assigned to the school (by whom is unclear) due to a horrific instance of violence that occurred in a neighborhood home to many J-Town students. Watching the video of the incident at J-Town, it is abundantly clear that had those extra officers not been there, that nothing but a routine argument between students with no punches thrown is all that would have happened.

Given the excessive length of this post, I’ll have to leave that for later. However, I have been advocating for alternative and more effective means to make schools safer for over five years, dating to before I was on the Board. Thankfully, JCPS is finally in the process of implementing these strategies in several schools. Unfortunately, they have not yet been implemented in J-Town. I will advocate that J-Town be put on a fast track to implementation. I will not apologize for making decisions based on hard facts, evidence, and research about what is best for kids.

To conclude, I’d like to share an email I received from an expert on these issues. This expert asked that I not share their name for now since they don’t know all the facts about J-Town and they didn’t want to take any chances on their comments being misinterpreted. With their permission, I fused together two of their emails below, adding the second one to make his support for law enforcement clear. (Blanks below represented redacted text.)

Dr. Kolb,

I applaud your efforts in support of a “review” of the current system of local police officers assigned to our public schools. From what I have read, you raise legitimate concerns.

My name is __________. Most importantly, I have close ties to JCPS, with family members working in the District and a grandchild attending an elementary school.

Second, I am a retired lieutenant from the Louisville Police Department (now LMPD), former teacher with JCPS _________.

Due to my wife’s work transfer, we moved to __________ where I served as Director of Security Services for 7/12 years with __________ Public Schools, the largest in __________, at that time serving approximately 72,000 students. While in __________, I earned my doctorate in Educational Administration from __________. I then served as a college professor for 13 years before returning “home” to Louisville, __________.

I just share this bit of background with you because I dealt with some of the issues that arise when contracting with local police agencies to provide security to the schools. So many times, often with the best of intentions, conflicts between law enforcement and public schools create more problems than are solved, including the “loss of control” by the school district over the officers who work for a different agency, often with a very different mission.

I am more in the camp of schools providing their own security, along with establishing a close relationship with law enforcement through reporting of incidents and demanding professional response when called upon.

I urge caution. When a horrific incident occurs in a school or as we have seen this weekend, a church, many will call for an increased presence of armed officers in schools. But, is this what we want for our society?

I want to point out that as a former police lieutenant, I am very supportive of law enforcement. I want to encourage a positive relationship between the various police agencies in our community and the schools within their jurisdictions. My past experiences were “just that” at __________ and __________ High Schools. But, I admit that was several years ago (__________).

Certainly, anywhere in our communities, we would like to have a police officer present when a tragic event occurs (the church this past weekend), but police can’t be everywhere. Even with an officer present (Columbine High) these horrific acts occur.

Best to you in review of the current policy and system.

The following email was sent to Dear JCPS. We are publishing it with permission from the author, amid what appears to be emerging as a systemic and pervasive pattern of discrimination that has been allowed to fester in a number of our schools under the previous administration. By sharing this former Manual student’s testimony with our followers, our hope is that this type of behavior can be eliminated from our schools once and for all, so no other students or staff will be subjected to similar treatment. Dear JCPS encourages JCPS to take swift action and send a clear message that discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated.

 

Dear JCPS,

I’m one of the many students coming forward about the issues being caused by Jerry Mayes, principal of the magnet school duPont Manual High School.

I tried to file a complaint with the HRC in May of 2016, with many allegations against Jerry Mayes. You see, I was president of the school’s Gay Straight Transgender Alliance and it was very clear that he had issues with us. I’ll list the following things I feel he did wrong in order:

  • Repeatedly pushed Christian ideology in a public school environment
  • Kept certain clubs from handing out flyers/meeting information at student registration
  • Let Christian clubs reserve larger meeting spaces at the expense of other, more ‘liberal’ clubs
  • Tried to keep the Black Student Union from forming in 2014-15, using the slur ‘wigger’ to defend himself
  • Censored the yearbook as to not include ‘too much’ intersectionality; wouldn’t let the cover of the 2016 yearbook be a gay couple holding hands
  • Pulled me out of class REGULARLY to discuss things with me that were either a distraction or not time sensitive
  • Asked me to keep a domestic abuse/student being outed and abused at home situation quiet from EVERYONE, including other teachers/my club sponsor/my parents after asking me for advice on the matter
  • Regularly dropped hints that he would ‘out’ me as trans and queer to my father, who he saw in public
  • Monitored the meetings of the GSTA regularly, outed and undermined students during meetings, and threatened to shut us down
  • Asked transgender students in private without any other faculty support in the room about their genitalia and medical history

Seeing as most of these things happened within my senior year at duPont, I would not be surprised if they continued to happen. I think it’s of the utmost importance that Jerry Mayes be reviewed in his position at duPont Manual High School before more accounts like this happen. If more dates and specifics to events are needed, I’ll be more than happy to provide those along with any eyewitness accounts of what I witnessed during my time at duPont.

Thank you so much for your time,

Oberon Waters

The views expressed here are those of the author. Because a copy of this email was also sent to district leaders, its contents are a matter of public record, subject to discovery under the Kentucky open records act. We share it with our followers because transparency and accountability within our district remain our primary focus. If you or someone you know has had a similar experience with leadership in a JCPS school, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form.

The following email was sent to @JCPSKY Board Members and Superintendent, with a copy to Dear JCPS. We are publishing it with permission from the author, amid what appears to be emerging as a systemic and pervasive pattern of discrimination that has been allowed to fester in a number of our schools under the previous administration. By sharing this parent’s testimony with our followers, our hope is that this type of behavior can be eliminated from our schools once and for all, so no other students or staff will be subjected to similar treatment. Dear JCPS encourages JCPS to take swift action and send a clear message that discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated.

 

Dear JCPS,

I’m Keni Brown, a parent of a DuPont Manual High School graduate. I am writing to express my concerns regarding Mr. Jerry Mayes, principal at Manual High School.

I’m writing because I have heard through the Manual community that Mr. Mayes is intimidating and threatening students, and being insensitive to the diversity of the student population. I experienced this first hand as a parent at Manual with Mr. Mayes. It was so terrible that I escalated my concerns to the public relations officer for JCPS at the time. Because it was not long ago, several parents and students know of the issues that occurred; and have shared with me the stories that are occurring now at Manual.

My daughter, Jahne Brown, was a student at Manual High School and graduated in May 2016. In Mr. Mayes’ first year as principal at Manual, Jahne asked to start the school’s first Black Student Union (BSU). We had no idea at the time that encouraging her to pursue this idea would cause years of intimidation by Mr. Mayes.

Before starting the BSU, Jahne had to get a teacher to sponsor the organization. Her sponsor was a Manual Jornalism & Communications teacher. The teacher signed the appropriate paperwork required to start the student organization. When the paperwork went to Mayes for approval, Jahne was called into his office by him. This is when the trouble began. Mr. Mayes told my daughter, who was 14-15 years old at the time, that starting a BSU is equivalent to introducing weeds into good crops and would kill everything. He told her there was no reason for black students at Manual to have representation or need a club of their own. He told her that she was part of the problem with black students at the school.

When Jahne shared this information with me, I contacted Mr. Mayes by phone. Mr. Mayes insulted me and my child during the conversation. Some of the things he told me included:

  • He asked me if Jahne’s father was in the home and his profession. Because she was misguided. I told Mr. Mayes that Jahne’s father is an Electrical Engineer who encourages his child to pursue her dreams.
  • To that he responded, he adopted minority children. He can’t be racist. Black parents like me are a problem because we don’t give back to our communities and adopt black children.
  • Jahne should be taught to accept the status quo. We are raising her to be a woman that won’t be liked and people would perceive as angry.
  • He told me that if she started the BSU he may have influence over whether she could participate in other extracurricular activities.

After talking to Mr. Mayes, I advised him that he could no longer speak with Jahne without the presence of an adult. He continued to do so multiple times and pulled her out of class to give her his personal opinions of the Black Student Union. The issue became so bad, that I advised Jahne that whenever Mr. Mayes contacted her or tried to talk to her, that she should ask the BSU sponsor to go alone or go along with her.

The BSU sponsor attended multiple meetings with Jahne and took copious notes where Mr. Mayes insulted or demeaned her, the club, and abused his authority. The issues did not stop with the BSU.

Jahne was also a staff member and later editor in chief of the Manual yearbook. The students wanted to profile a transgender student. Mr. Mayes came to the yearbook class and told them they could not publish the article because they were profiling a misfit who was going through a phase. He said that the lifestyle was wrong and that the students would be punished if they pursued the article. He threatened the two Journalism and Communications teachers who taught the yearbook classes and sponsored them in the afternoon at the time.

I am writing all of this to say that Mr. Mayes is not a first time offender. He has a history of using his authority to demean students of color. He has abused his power to threaten kids who have no recourse. He has a history of pulling students out of the learning environment to impose his personal beliefs.

I have been told that Mr. Mayes is telling students that he started the Black Student Union. I am shocked and appalled to hear this after I know first hand how Mr. Mayes took time and energy to personally harass my child for years. He should not be allowed to remain in place at Manual, or any school.

I am sure that my daughter Jahne would be happy to share her experience with you. She is currently a student at the University of Chicago. We are so happy that with our support and the support of caring teachers that Jahne was able to persevere. Unfortunately, every child doesn’t have the support system our child has; and Mr. Mayes is influencing their view of the world, themselves, their value, their place in this world and their ability to impact positive change.

Thank you for taking time to read my very lengthy email and to hear my concerns.

Best, Keni

The views expressed here are those of the author. Because a copy of this email was also sent to district leaders, its contents are a matter of public record, subject to discovery under the Kentucky open records act. We share it with our followers because transparency and accountability within our district remain our primary focus. If you or someone you know has had a similar experience with leadership in a JCPS school, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form.

The following email was sent to @JCPSKY Board Members and Superintendent, with a copy to Dear JCPS. We are publishing it with permission from the author, amid what appears to be emerging as a systemic and pervasive pattern of discrimination that has been allowed to fester in a number of our schools under the previous administration. By sharing this former student’s deeply personal testimony with our followers, our hope is that this pattern can be stopped once and for all, so no other students or staff will be subjected to similar treatment. Dear JCPS encourages JCPS to take swift action and send a clear message that discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated.

 

Dear JCPS,

I had an encounter with Manual Principal Jerry Mayes in my senior year of high school in 2015 that, at the time scared and silenced me. I was asked about my body and my genitalia as a transgender male. This was after Mayes had seen me exiting the male restroom at Manual during my study hall hour at the end of the day. He called my teacher to have a private meeting about the matter with me during school hours. I was scared and quite confused as I had been out and presenting as male and using the male restroom at the school before he was Principal for over 2 years prior. He had me sit down, asked me how school was going, and then asked me what surgeries I had done. This was without any warning. He asked what I had done to my body “anatomically”. I asked him for what purpose this served and he really didn’t have any other answer than “if I get in trouble for you using the restroom”. He probed me for answers about what was under my clothing.

Mayes knew I was transgender due to an article just 6 months prior in my 3rd year of high school that a journalism student had written about me and my journey through high school and the education and awareness I hoped to advocate for as a student for the year book. However, he fought this article and even brought my parents in to discuss with me the dangers he would face for allowing this educational article publish. He even had equated it during the meeting to having an article about masturbation. He had equated my identity and self to this analogy and it hurt. However I did not have the strength to speak up as a student who just wanted to graduate without worry.

Uncomfortable situations with Jerry Mayes did not stop even after my own experiences. He would call my teachers pet names, even after they had asked him not to. Bearing witness to multiple situations of this nature that made faculty and staff uncomfortable made me also more skeptical of his power and abuse of it.

I’ve hoped as a Manual graduate to let time heal things for Jerry Mayes and for more learning opportunities to arise, however, his patterns of private student meetings with constant probing and borderline harassment have continued for students I know in the Black Student Union (which he took credit for, but adamantly opposed its creation) and for Manual’s Gay Straight Transgender Alliance’s gender neutral restrooms that he had also previously strongly opposed.

I wish to speak out after many years of being afraid of telling someone what Jerry Mayes had said or done to me. I have spoken at several JCPS board meetings about the matter, but never mentioned him by name for fear of being targeted by him in another “private meeting” setting where probing and borderline harassment was present. As a graduate of duPont Manual, I feel a responsibility to helping future students and staff. I am willing to discuss any of the matters I have mentioned publicly and thoroughly if needed as well.

 

Thank you for listening,

Casey Hoke

Founder of QueerArtHistory.com
3rd year design student at Cal Poly Pomona
Office of Student Life and Cultural Centers Graphic Designer

The views expressed here are those of the author and the email is a matter of public record, subject to discovery under the Kentucky open records act. If you or someone you know has had a similar experience with leadership in a JCPS school, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form.

White privilege is real. So is generational, institutionalized racism. Nowhere is it more prevalent than in our public school system. But often, those who make the rules have a hard time seeing how those rules can limit access to opportunity for others. While these issues are nothing to make light of, sometimes you need a hands-on approach to help white students or family members understand their privilege. We hope this example is of benefit to those who wish to approach these sensitive, yet undeniable, issues with an open heart and open mind. (Download a PDF of the flyer here.)

RULES:

Set up your GAME BOARD. Give yourself cash, properties and hotels and houses, totaling $18,000. Your opponent gets the traditional $1,500 to start. This 12:1 disparity represents the median amount of wealth transferred from whites to their heirs, compared with African Americans.

There are two sets of CARDS. Educational injustices experienced by students of color go in the FAT CHANCE pile (click here to print your own cards). Tax breaks, stock market gains, work bonuses, opportunities due to “who you know,” etc. go in the PRIVILEGED COMMUNITY CHEST.

They choose their TOKEN (the IRON, because it’s the only one that’s left), and the game commences.

When they notice that the board is not set up equitably, they complain. You respond with, “That’s in the past. We’re all equal now. Let’s play!“ You roll and proceed to move forward the correct number of spaces.

When a player lands on a “DRAW A CARD” SQUARE, you draw from PRIVILEGED COMMUNITY CHEST. Your opponent draws from the FAT CHANCE pile. These distinctly different stacks of cards represent the systemic disparities still in place from generations of targeting, profiling and redlining of the black community reflected in policies and norms throughout society today.

When your opponent lands on YOUR PROPERTIES, they pay you RENT. If you own all properties in a COLOR GROUP, their rent is DOUBLED.

When you land on THEIR PROPERTIES, same thing. Except, they probably don’t own any properties, you bought most of them (or inherited them) before they got there.

Eventually, they will inevitably land on one of your HOUSES or HOTELS and they won’t have enough cash to continue. If they happen to have purchased a property, they have the option to MORTGAGE their property to the bank in order to stay in the game. However, they only get half the LOAN AMOUNT on the back of the card.

When your opponent runs out of cash, they have to GO TO JAIL, while you continue to roll the dice until all assets have been acquired. If they complain about any of the rules, you say, “That was one of the rules that was decided on before you got here. Don’t like it? Get here earlier next time.”

OBJECT OF THE GAME:

To inspire whites to understand their privilege enough to research it and develop talking points so they can respond to others who try to marginalize it by saying racism or privilege don’t exist, and to commit to fight to create equitable learning opportunities for our children of color.

Credits: Created by Gay Adelmann. Inspired by Shelton McElroy and Jane Elliott.

Disclaimer: We realize this post will probably upset some of our white followers. However, in this current climate, and the increasing suffering of our students of color, we believe it’s a chance we must take. If you disagree with the examples presented in this post, it’s possible that you are not one of the ones impacted by them. The FAT CHANCE CARDS were created based on actual examples experienced by students of color in our district. These hurdles continue to happen every day in our schools. And we cannot end them until we acknowledge they exist.

Dear JCPS,

We are so grateful that the proposed changes to the Director of Library Media Services job description have been tabled. Our sincere thanks to the Superintendent and School Board members for this wise reconsideration. We hope that also means that the weeks of not posting the position to the job list are over, and that the district will begin accepting applications for this vital office. The sooner the position is posted, the more seamless the transition once the current director retires.

 

School librarians support ALL areas of core content, and teach using an inquiry framework that embeds information literacy into core content instruction. We collaborate with teachers to lead students to deeper learning experiences using the rich print and online resources available in our libraries. We are anxious to begin this important work without the worry and distraction of not having our new director hired and available to support our efforts. We trust that the position will be advertised soon and look forward to great things in the 2017-18 school year.

Sincerely,

Concerned Librarians

This letter was submitted via the Open Letter Form. Although the name(s) of the person(s) submitting the letter are kept anonymous here, they are not anonymous to us. If you have a concern you would like to share, please let us know.

We are pleased to report an update to this story. We have heard that this item will be coming off Tuesday night’s agenda. Advocacy works!

 

Dear JCPS,

Tuesday night, the JCPS Board of Education is looking to revise the minimum job requirements of library director for JCPS, just in time to replace our current retiring director.

In order to become a librarian, I had to obtain an additional Master’s degree in Library and Information Science. This was after I already had a Master’s in Education and a Master’s in Literacy. I have a Rank I, three Master’s degrees and a Bachelor’s degree. Despite all of my credentials prior to obtaining my LIS degree, I still needed an additional degree to become a librarian. And even though I had nine years of teaching under my belt, I really wasn’t qualified to be a librarian until I had completed my degree. Through the completion of this degree, I learned the skills and tools necessary to become a librarian.

Despite what people believe, no, librarians don’t just read books to kids all day. Librarians are more important than that. We are advocates for literacy, research, and support in learning endeavors in schools. We are the go-to spot for current, relevant and factual information. We are essential guides to finding the best resources to achieve goals. We are essential in promoting schoolwide literacy initiatives. We are essential in creating a school culture that promotes and supports the foundations that students need to succeed. We teach teachers. We select materials that support learning. We do so much more above and beyond the minimum job requirements of any teacher. We encourage new readers, foster book groups and promote communities of reading. We are the backbone of each and every school in JCPS.

With that being said, a librarian director for JCPS should be just as qualified to lead more than 155 librarians in our district. A teacher with an admin degree doesn’t have the skills necessary to lead and advocate for our librarians. How can a person with an admin degree lead and teach 155 teachers when they themselves don’t have any concept of what it means to be a librarian? How can a person who has no knowledge of library and information science lead librarians when they have no experience being/doing what a librarian is/does?

I own a car. I’ve been driving for well over 20 years now. I’ve own multiple cars in my life of a variety of makes and models. I’m pretty competent in driving a car and identifying most of the parts of a car. But when I need my car serviced, I take it to a qualified mechanic who knows how everything works under the hood because they know how to diagnose and repair. They have the experience, tools, and training to get the job done. Just because I have experience with cars doesn’t mean I know how to speak the language of a mechanic, or repair the car. It doesn’t mean I can repair my own car, or train mechanics how to repair a car.

Likewise, just because a person has “leadership experience working with diverse populations” doesn’t mean they have the tools, skills, and experience necessary to lead, teach, evaluate, advocate for, and direct 155 librarians in the field of library science. I urge you to vote against these revisions. JCPS doesn’t need a body with an admin degree to fill an open position. We need someone who knows who and what a librarian truly is.

Dear Mr. Brady,

Just curious where this JCPS HR issue stands to date (“I am 100% integrity“). It was brought to light at an earlier board meeting yet, there has been no update. Can you offer, at this time, any updates for the public on this matter. Is there truth to the matter, has it been swept under the rug, or is it of false nature? Mr. Brady, we are counting on you to keep transparent.

I noticed HR director Tiffeney Armour is presenting HR annual report at tomorrow’s (July 25, 2017) Board of Ed meeting. Will this topic/issue be addressed as well? Please address and update.

Signed,

Very Concerned

 

From an earlier board meeting: