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.

We are pleased to introduce five amazing candidates who have stepped up to bring needed change to the 15th District PTA Executive Board. All of the candidates running from the floor have received the Dear JCPS endorsement.

Click on the candidate’s name to view their full profile page. Sign up to be a voting delegate by contacting your school’s PTA President before May 3. Vote on May 7 between 4PM and 6:45 PM at LCCC. No banquet ticket is required to vote, but you must bring your PTA membership card and ID. If you do not have your membership card, please ask your PTA President for a replacement.

Jamique Washington
2nd Vice President

Amanda Rhye
3rd Vice President

LaTasha Harrison
4th Vice President

Sharika Anderson
5th Vice President

April Zimmerman
Secretary

April Zimmerman
Secretary

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.

LaTasha Harrison
4th Vice President

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

I have served as a member of the PTA for the past 12 years. I held the position of President at Price Elementary for two years and on the first year won the National School of Excellence Award. I am currently a member of the Alex R. Kennedy PTA and Moore Middle PTA.

What prompted you to seek this position?

As a member of the 15th District PTA Board of Directors, I hope to support the growth of future PTA leaders and to be an advocate for the health, education, and welfare of all children. While providing outlets and avenues that empower our parents and children to reach their greatest potential.

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

I am excited about the opportunities of working with different schools and building relationships that will allow the PTA to grow as a whole. I believe that there is so much more that we can offer our children and parents if we work together and build together.

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 excited to be an ambassador for the National PTA. The PTA is the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the United States. The PTA was founded on being influential on federal policies that promote education, health and the well-being of all children that resulted in kindergarten classes, child labor laws, school lunch programs, a juvenile justice system, and the strengthening of parent-teacher relationships. I am passionate about advocating for our children and parents.

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 being a team player any successful organization is successful because of great minds working together. I actively listen to others. As a team player, I can absorb, understand, and consider ideas and points of view from other people. I am a very effective communicator and problem solver. I have the willingness to share, information, knowledge, and experience.

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 have the time necessary to fulfill my duties. I am very excited about being a part of the 15th District PTA Board. I am committed to fulfilling my duties and excited to bring new innovative ways to work with students and parents.

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.  

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.

This is in regards to the Valley High School state findings, that the current interim principal is not fit for the school.

I would have to DISAGREE with the findings at Valley High School. Mr. Gossett was giving the interim principal role just a few months ago, when our principal ran into some health issues. Mr. Gossett was the Assistant Principal of Valley High at the time. So who better to be put into the head role at the school. Mr. Gossett knows what these kids need, what works for them, and he has plenty of support from the parents to continue doing what he’s doing there at Valley. This would be a big mistake taking him from this role at the school. As a parent of a Viking I support him & all he’s done to make changes in the short period of time he has had this role. We will continue to make sure our voices as parents are being heard at JCPS.

Roxanne Humphrey

  • 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.