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.

Click to view news article.

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

Listen to our podcasts here:

Read letters from parents and teachers here:

Listen to speakers at the last JCPS Board Meeting here:

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.”

Sign our petition by clicking on the image.

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? 


“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.

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.

April Zimmerman

Questions and responses are taken from the 15th District PTA Website, where you can also find information about the candidates on the slate, the election and how to become a delegate.  

What PTA positions have you held in the past and what PTA/PTSA are currently a member of?

I have not held any positions within PTA/PTSA but I have been very active with other organizations.

What prompted you to seek this position?

I want to positively influence education and encourage involvement of parents and other stakeholders.

What about the position excites you and why do you want to join the 15th District PTA Board?

I am a very strong advocate of education and students and being vocal when it comes to the effects of community involvement within education and students and how it takes a village to raise a child.

Will you be comfortable being an ambassador or advocate for our association and our mission which includes National PTA Resolutions and Position Statements? If so what makes you passionate about our association?

Yes, I will be an advocate for PTA and I am passionate about getting community and parents involved in educating our youth. Education is more than just teachers/educators in a school but the whole community educating youth during all events/ all day, every day!

Joining a board requires working as part of a team. How would you describe your ability to work on a team? The role you think you will play as part of this team?

I am a go-getter and an advocate/ educator first and foremost. I will be active and an active listener with fresh, new ideas. A 15th District PTA Board position is an important commitment. Are you able to give the time necessary to fulfill this role and to attend all PTA board meetings and events? Yes, I am able to attend meetings and events and to fulfill any PTA role.

A 15th District PTA Board position is an important commitment. Are you able to give the time necessary to fulfill this role and to attend all PTA board meetings and events?

Yes, I am able to attend meetings and events and to fulfill any PTA role.

Sharika Anderson
5th Vice President

Questions and responses are taken from the 15th District PTA Website, where you can also find information about the candidates on the slate, the election and how to become a delegate.

What PTA positions have you held in the past and what PTA/PTSA are currently a member of?

I was previously the VP of Membership on the board of Whitney Young’s PTA and the secretary of Coleridge-Taylor’s PTA.

What prompted you to seek this position?

I believe that just as our schools should represent our diverse population, so should our PTA’s. I want to ensure that our children and families have the best possible opportunities available.

What about the position excites you and why do you want to join the 15th District PTA Board?

What excites me about possibly joining the 15th District PTA Board is to be able to work with a multitude of schools and finding out what they need and how we can partner with them to achieve their goals.

Will you be comfortable being an ambassador or advocate for our association and our mission which includes National PTA Resolutions and Position Statements? If so what makes you passionate about our association?

I am passionate about the PTA because I see it as a way to truly partner with your child’s school to ensure that the needs that the school does not meet, we could fill that gap. Joining a board requires working as part of a team.

How would you describe your ability to work on a team? The role you think you will play as part of this team?

I enjoy working with a group of people toward a common goal. I feel that the more brains you have looking at a problem the better the solution will be. I look forward to bouncing ideas off other people and learning from them. The role that I will play on this team is being an advocate for what best for our children and our schools.

A 15th District PTA Board position is an important commitment. Are you able to give the time necessary to fulfill this role and to attend all PTA board meetings and events?

I am fully committed to fulfilling this position and attending all PTA board meetings and events.

  • We met Amanda during the teacher-led actions in Frankfort. She approached us about hosting a parent-led rally in front of Van Hoose and we did everything we could to support them. The event was a huge success.
  • Amanda also spoke to news media about the parental support of JCPS teachers.
  • She will make a great 15th District PTA leader and advocate.
Questions and responses are taken from the 15th District PTA Website, where you can also find information about the candidates on the slate, the election and how to become a delegate. 

What PTA positions have you held in the past and what PTA/PTSA are currently a member of?

I have been a member of the Eisenhower Elementary School PTA since my daughter started kindergarten there last school year. I enjoy volunteering throughout the year and look forward to another four years of service to our school.

What prompted you to seek this position?

In the recent months I have become a much more actively involved parent in the bigger picture outside of our individual school walls. Several people contacted me to say that they thought I would be a great advocate for our children in this capacity as a board member, and I agreed that it is an amazing opportunity to make a positive impact on a wider scale. I will be happy to assist the Board, in any way possible.

What about the position excites you and why do you want to join the 15th District PTA Board?

I volunteer at every possible opportunity for both our school staff and PTA. I have always been dedicated to helping improve the lives of children around me, in whatever way I can. Without a doubt, a strong community of support for our students is the most vital key to their success, and the PTA is the heart of that community. To be a part of such an important part of our school system is wonderful, because as a mother to me nothing is more important than education.

Will you be comfortable being an ambassador or advocate for our association and our mission which includes National PTA Resolutions and Position Statements? If so, what makes you passionate about our association?

I feel more than capable of being an advocate for the PTA. My hope is to help take ideas that work in successful PTAs, and share them to other schools to help strengthen them. Outside of our school staff, the parents involved are an important part of schools that do well. PTA gives us the organization to accomplish amazing goals. Joining a board requires working as part of a team.

How would you describe your ability to work on a team? The role you think you will play as part of this team.

As an EMT for over a decade, the first thing I learned is that for success team work is crucial. I am comfortable working and adapting to others, compromising, and playing whatever role is needed at the time. Those are all important factors to being a team player, and any organization cannot succeed without those abilities. I am great at organizing and leadership, but also know when to step back and play a support role. A 15th District PTA Board position is an important commitment.

Are you able to give the time necessary to fulfill this role and to attend all PTA board meetings and events?

I am currently a stay home mother, dedicating my time to ensuring my daughter’s education gets off to a good start and volunteering all of my free time. As such this role fits perfectly into the flexibility my schedule

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.

Are Louisville Teachers Being Forced To Choose Between The “Lesser of Two Evils?”

“The beatings will continue until morale improves,” seems to be the mantra of the Kentucky GOP when it comes to public education.

In the latest attack on its teachers, Kentucky’s new pro-charter education commissioner vowed to not punish teachers “as long as there are no more work stoppages.” It’s unclear whether the final day of Kentucky’s legislative session tomorrow will be met with another teacher-led “sick out.” It would be the 7th sickout in Jefferson County in a month. Kentucky Legislature has been on recess the last 14-days, resuming on March 28 for “sine die” and to pass any final legislation.

In addition to other terrible bills that pose a potential risk to Kentuckians, nine resolutions stand ready to be passed by the Kentucky Senate, which would confirm the governor’s newest seven appointments to the Kentucky Board of education. The two additional resolutions appear to extend the length of current appointees’ service by swapping their seats (expiring in 2020) with two who would have been appointed to the new slots, possibly a maneuver to protect key players in the event Kentucky’s unpopular governor does not win reelection.

The entire 14-member board is now completely made up of privatization-friendly appointees from Kentucky’s charter-pushing, ALEC-backed governor, following an earlier round of appointments two years prior. Last year, the new board ousted the Commonwealth’s highly qualified commissioner, Stephen Pruitt, the day after they were appointed, and replaced him with an 5-year teacher and charter school ideologue who immediately called for a state takeover of the state’s largest district.

Serving nearly 100,000 students, and a $1.7 billion annual budget, Jefferson County Public Schools is by far the largest school district in the state of Kentucky, and the 30th largest in the nation.

Let’s ignore the fact that few, if any, of these board members have experience as educators or parents in the public school sector. In fact, several of the members have direct ties to charter schools and have been working behind the scenes to undermine public schools and/or position themselves to potentially profit from charters, scholarship tax credits and state takeovers of schools and districts.

KBE appointments subject to confirmation include Hal Heiner, Gary Houchens, and Ben Cundiff. Their names, along with that of their chosen commissioner, Wayne Lewis, can be found on formation documents and on boards of existing charter schools dating back to 2011, long before they worked their way into positions of conflict of interest or self-dealing.

Charters, vouchers, “scholarships” and myriad other hedge-fund darling investments have been the law of the land on 43 other states, so these well-funded privatizers know how to penetrate a market. And once they’ve opened their doors, they will continue to expand and decimate districts. We know this because we’ve heard from our allies in Indiana, Tennessee, Florida, Arizona, California, West Virginia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Iowa, Washington State, the list goes on and on.

These folks keep telling us, “whatever you do, don’t let them in. It’s much harder to get them out once you have them.” JCPS teachers see it, and they have been literally keeping these most dangerous bills at bay this session and last. “To again fail to (approve charter funding) is pretty shocking and something we’ve never seen in any other state,” according to Todd Ziebarth, a national charter school advocate who helped craft the 2017 law.

But this fight is far from over. So what legislation is still in play that could happen on Thursday? House Bill 358 would give public universities the option to exit the Kentucky Employees’ Retirement System (KERS). The bill passed the House where the Senate “took a problematic bill and transformed it into an outright dangerous one,” according to Louisville House Rep Lisa Willner. “The Senate version would still permit public universities to opt out of the public retirement system (KERS), and would all but require that “quasi-governmental” agencies – community mental health centers, domestic violence shelters, child advocacy organizations, rape crisis centers, and all 61 health departments statewide – exit the public retirement system altogether. The Senate version of HB 358 threatens the very existence of these lifeline organizations, and could effectively dismantle the statewide system of public protection and crisis support.” The number of Kentucky workers whose inviolable contracts would be broken would expand to nearly 9,000.

Although many legislators have assured us HB205 (Scholarship Tax Credits) and HB525 (Pension Trustee Appointments) are dead this session, it doesn’t mean they won’t continue to bring them back next year and the year after that until they pass, much like they did with charter school legislation, which finally passed in 2017. Our only saving grace has been the fact that there was so much pushback, the general assembly’s been unable to muster enough intestinal fortitude to fund them again this session. The trick is figuring out if we can really trust this latest promise, because those in the minority are usually the last to know what’s going on, and those in the supermajority have broken our trust before.

The same body that passed an unconstititional “sewer bill” on the last day of 2018 session is the same body that called a special session to try to pass it again constitutionally last winter. And now we’re simply supposed to trust them when they say these harmful education bills are dead?

But those bills aren’t the only threat in the near future. As I mentioned, charter school legislation passed in 2017, but has yet to be funded. A looming state takeover of JCPS could open the door to conversion charter schools, without waiting for any funding mechanism to pass.

Could the confirmation of the KBE appointments be checkmate for Jefferson County Public Schools? Or said another way, could a disruption in the confirmation of these appointments derail the privatizers’ agenda to implement charter schools in our most vulnerable communities? If for no other reason, concerned citizens of Jefferson County need to email, call and then head to Frankfort on Thursday to put pressure on the Kentucky Senate to not confirm Bevin’s appointments to the KBE.

Jefferson County teachers are fighting against a “solution” that has been not only proven not to work, but leads to school closures, district bankruptcies, displaced vulnerable students and increased taxes.

If I were a teacher, I would be outraged at Commissioner Lewis’ latest attempts to bully and intimidate teachers. I’d love to see teachers call his bluff and reveal their collective power over him. But I’m not a teacher. I’m a parent, community organizer, concerned citizen and taxpayer who recognized years ago that her son’s “failing” public school in a high-minority, high-poverty area of town was being groomed for a charter school takeover. And yet, here we are, six years and one helluva fight later, risking watching everything we’ve been warning folks about come to fruition.

The Friday following the last sickout, many parents also kept their children home to show solidarity with teachers who have been fighting for our students, and to exercise the only power they knew how. There is talk of another parent-led action during the week of abusive state testing. It’s time teachers and parents in these red states recognize the power they do hold, and to use it to stop the hostilities coming out of Frankfort.

Whether it’s parents or teachers doing the talking, it’s time to turn the conversation around and say to Lewis, the KBE, our state legislators, and union leaders who appear to be siding with the state bosses and their big money donors, “There will be no more disruptions, as long as you stop the shady attempts to privatize our schools against the wishes of taxpayers and against the best interest of our most vulnerable students.”

Dear JCPS invites other concerned citizens to Frankfort on March 28 for a Rally in the Rotunda from 10 am – 12 pm. We will also have the table in the annex basement where concerned citizens like myself are happy to answer any other questions you may have about what’s really behind this movement and what are next steps.

Gay Adelmann is a parent of a recent JCPS graduate and co-founder of Dear JCPS and Save Our Schools Kentucky. She can be reached at moderator@dearjcps.com.

Karin Bennett, Greg Tichenor, De’Nita Wright and Austin Norrid, Opinion contributorsPublished 9:58 a.m. ET March 11, 2019 | Updated 1:54 p.m. ET March 11, 2019

JCPS says there’s an urgent need to invest in new buildings throughout the county. It’s promoting the plan as a cost-saving measure and critical step. Marty Pearl/Special to Courier Journal, Louisville Courier Journal

We believe that putting student assignment first is key to avoiding a state takeover.

The Jefferson County school board is discussing rearranging the facilities before resolving student assignment. At the upcoming JCPS board meeting on Tuesday night, our elected school board members are expected to approve a $120 million Facilities Capital Fund proposal, which will result in a net loss of three elementary schools in southern and western Louisville. 

Read full article here: