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.

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
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.

The following email was sent to all Kentucky Legislators by a Jefferson County Public Schools Principal. We are publishing it with his permission:



My name is Robert Fulk, Principal of The Marion C. Moore School in Louisville, KY JCPS.  We are the largest school in the city of Louisville with an enrollment of over 2,150.  I have over 240 folks that work for me here at Moore and right now, they are scared.  I’d like to take a moment and give you some context as to why Pension Reform is so critical not only to our school, but to the Commonwealth, and our future generations of Kentuckians.

Without a doubt, I am invested in the future of our Commonwealth.  I am Kentucky born, and my adult life has been in service to the school system.  I own property, pay taxes, and volunteer my time to better my city and state.  I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Olmsted Parks, the school board for St Nicholas Academy, and an active parishioner of OLMC.  I am a father of three wonderful kids, and married to an educator. I am the principal of the largest school in the city of Louisville.  THE Marion C. Moore, grades 6-12.  We have over 2,150 students.  I took this building over last year as it was failing, culture was terrible, and our programs were abysmal.  In a year we’ve added engineering, Electricians track, Culinary Arts, Medical pathways, and dual credit for our students.  We have opened the doors to prepare our students more fully for their next step, and our culture is growing rapidly, daily.  In a year we have shown marked improvement in any measurable category and we are quickly becoming known for our turnaround.  A big component of this is hiring.  Last year I hired 78 staff.  This year I’ve hired 37.  One of the driving factors in new teachers in the pension, and for those of us already vested it is a huge component of why we choose this work.  It is an essential recruitment and retention tool.  Without the pension, I will lose quality applicants.  This is an undeniable fact from any study on pension reform.  We are already paid less than comparable fields with as much education, and removing the pension from this equation is shackling a system even further.  I ask those of you that are businessmen and women, could you sustain high performance in your industry with my current hiring ratio?  We are proud that in a year we have cut our hiring in half, but removing the pension will only make this problem worse.  It is not sustainable.

By my best estimate I have paid in over $140,000 in my career, and this is my 14th year.  11%+ per paycheck, without fail, and without griping.  Yet here we are now and I am told I may lose what is promised to me in an inviolable contract.  Like any employer-employee relationship, teachers and school administrators accept their employment in schools based on assurances that they would receive certain levels of salary and benefits. More importantly, these assurances are in law. Each year that they have already worked represents a year in which they performed their obligations under that contract. The legislature must live up to its obligations as well, and continue to provide the benefits it has committed to provide for each of the years that the employee has already worked. Any retroactive reduction of benefits, including sick leave accumulation, would represent a breach of contractual obligations.  The current plan presented this week is not good.  Aside from the defacto pay cut of 3%, the burden placed on the district of 2%, and the provision of putting the pension aside if you work more than 100 hours for a state institution (how will we have retired subs, retired administrator covering schools in between principals, or retired folks teaching at public universities?) this plan is not keeping the promise.

I have, and all of my people have fulfilled my end of the contract faithfully.  As principal of the largest school in the city of Louisville I average about 70 hours a week of work.  I do not get social security.  I am compensated well, but if you remove the pension from the equation good luck finding people with as many degrees as an average principal has (and eventually a Doctorate) that will work on average 3300+ hours a year for our students.  I am the norm for an effective school principal.  Removing the pension from our field will result in less qualified teachers, and in my case, school leaders.  You do not want this, not for the future of the Commonwealth.  I have worked my time with the assurance the pension will be there.  I am expecting to retire in 17-18 years or so when I hang it up that my pension will be there, intact; as quite frankly it is your obligation to fulfill this contract.  Whether or not you or the previous body of legislators have mismanaged, underfunded, or otherwise kicked the can down the road is immaterial to me, my teachers, my classified folks, and any else in education.  We have done our part.

You have an obligation to me, and to the 240 employees in my building, and the rest of us around the state.  This will be the primary issue on which I base my votes for either of your reelection, and what I communicate as a member of our community.  I urge you to do the right thing and protect our pension.  We have done our part, faithfully.  I will confess, I believe this will be found on deaf ears.  I have contacted Senator Seum, and Representative Donahue several times with no response, a trend mirrored by several of my staff, as these men are our legislators for the Highview area.  This issue is essential to us, and to the future of the Commonwealth.

I send this to you as a citizen of our Commonwealth, a sitting school principal, the HS role group representative of JCASA, a volunteer on numerous boards, and as a father who is relying on his pension for his twilight years.  Please consider what you are doing to the future of the Commonwealth.


Rob Fulk Ed.S
THE Marion C. Moore School
@robfulk (Twitter)
@Mooremustangs (School Twitter)
Office: 502-485-8304

Our Priorities This year (click on the link)

Our MissionTHE Marion C. Moore School will be a school where students want to be, adults want to work, and the community is proud to have their children attend.


Showcase of Schools is Saturday at the ExpoCenter. @Dear_JCPS has partnered with Jefferson County Public Schools to ensure that parking fees do not prevent families in “non-neighborhood resides” districts from exploring and exercising their public school choice options. There will be free parking for West End families who do not have a resides school in their neighborhood (no dot in your color block shown on maps), along with with free shuttle rides to and from the ExpoCenter. If you live in one of these areas, contact us to obtain your free parking pass at 502-565-8397. You can also text your zip code to the same number, and we will send you a short survey and a digital parking pass. Your feedback will be provided to district leaders and student assignment committee members as they work to improve the student assignment plan.

Also, we are also looking for volunteers to help us knock on doors and conduct surveys as we conduct more outreach in the coming months. If you are interested in helping, complete this survey to sign up.


For more information contact: or call 502-565-8397.

As first reported by Toni Konz, WDRB, a state audit recently forced JCPS to reassign many of its non-certified instructors to supporting roles instead of supervising classrooms, since state law does not allow them to do so without a certified teacher present. This has apparently resulted in modification or discontinuation of certain optional classes in many schools.

We have heard that 270 instructors were affected, so we want to hear what kind of impact this has had on your school and your child. Please take a moment to complete the following survey. Your information will be aggregated into a report for others to view, but personally identifiable information will be kept confidential.

This article also came out in the Courier Journal yesterday and contains a link to the letter Dr. Pollio sent to the state in response to the audit findings and the action the district is taking.

We are interested in learning from all who have been affected, instructors included, and see if we can’t compile your responses and propose solutions to district leaders and state legislators. We believe this is a problem that has been evolving over time as a result of district leaders’ admirable attempts to make quality programs available under tighter and tighter budgets. As with many public education issues, when unintended consequences like these occur, some grassroots advocacy work may be required to get everyone back on the same page.

Dear JCPS’ goal is to find commonality among all groups affected and use that messaging to communicate to try to bring state and district leaders to a solution that benefits our students and staff, instead of losing valued programs and putting unfair burdens on our beloved instructors.

    Let us know if they have canceled these programs or if they are being continued. In the comments below you can provide more details.
    Let us know what has happened to the teacher(s). In the comments below you can provide more details.
  • You must provide your real name so we can verify the authenticity of this submission. We will not publish it in our results report.
  • Tell us your role at the school. Are you the affected teacher? (We will not reveal this.)
  • Please provide your email. This will not be displayed, but is used to contact you should we require additional follow up.
  • What would you like to see happen, and what suggestions do you have for district leaders or state legislators that you believe can make this happen?
  • Anything we forgot to ask?
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

I received the attached email from board member Linda Duncan this morning. I wanted to share it with you, along with my response.


Hi Linda,

Thank you for your email.

As they say, “correlation does not equal causation.” Yes, gaps have widened, and yes, students have become less engaged. However, that doesn’t mean busing is to blame. There are many, many other factors that come into play. And this is where we need to be focusing our attention.

It’s also not an either/or scenario. As I explained to Rep. Kevin Bratcher (who sponsored the “Neighborhood Schools” Bill last session), by the board approving a Males of Color Academy, we have not “announced … that diversity is not the top value anymore.” Not at all. Families who want schools to provide Afro-centric curriculum and equity in instruction, discipline and opportunities has nothing to do with wanting to return to segregation. This should exist in ALL schools, but since it doesn’t, they are requesting we start with one. Why must families choose between diversity and equity?

Males of Color Academy is open to students of all races. Segregation by choice is not the same as segregation by force, or by lack of access. If disenfranchised families want this option, we should listen to why, but it doesn’t mean we should force it upon all. We all agree things must change, but that doesn’t mean the only way to do it is to return to segregation. It’s well past time to do the difficult work of revisiting the student assignment formula and process. It’s been a taboo subject no one wants to touch and that’s finally starting to backfire on us. The current student assignment process is not transparent, has significantly more hurdles for poor, minority students, and frankly, it’s discriminatory.

How can district leaders come to ANY conclusions without giving those most affected by busing an opportunity to be heard? I encourage you to talk to teachers and families in these downtown and West End schools. I encourage the district to engage in authentic dialogue with community members. Not just the ones who know how to advocate but the ones who are too busy overcoming systemic injustices to contact their board members and attend community forums. We must get out into the community and find out what people want to see happen here. We cannot defer to the ones who are the loudest, because some of the same folks who are promoting a privatization agenda have given a small sliver of the community a megaphone. They do not speak for the majority of people I encounter in my advocacy work.

Our student assignment plan is not perfect. But due to our segregated housing in Louisville, and lack of schools in the West End, busing is still needed. Approval of the Males of Color Academy should not be used as “justification” to end busing and take away opportunities that busing and integration provide to a greater number of students … not just students of color, but white students, as well.

Yes, let’s change the formula. But let’s do it in a way that is equitable, transparent and inclusive. Let’s stop throwing our most vulnerable, most disenfranchised students and their families under the bus, literally. Let’s seek their input and give those paying the highest price a chance to lead the discussion for once. This is difficult work the JCPS community must do, not have dictated to us by lawmakers. Dear JCPS is ready to assist. Please let me know how we can help.

Thank you for your service, and again for reaching out.


Click here to join our support group for SBDM members.

Tomorrow, the Kentucky house and senate education committees will be holding a joint meeting to discuss, among other things, taking power away from SBDMs. Read more from KASC’s post: Keep Your Voice.

Koch-Brothers aligned “free-market” proponent BIPPS is one of the anti-SBDM speakers tomorrow. In an opinion letter that appeared in several papers across the state recently, they say teachers and parents are not equipped to make curriculum decisions. That’s ludicrous. Teachers are among the BEST equipped persons to do this. They have master’s degrees and certifications in education, are current on what’s going on in education and classrooms, and they know their students. A superintendent who, in a district the size of ours, may not have taught in decades and may only set foot in our building maybe once a year. A school in a high poverty area has many different needs and learning styles than a more-affluent magnet-only school. A superintendent has their own “adult-centered” agendas and when the state puts demands on them that force them to pay more attention to how things “look” than what they know to be right, they don’t always have the ability to do what’s best for the school. And depleting power from the local school level will only make matters worse.

I know this first hand.

My son graduated from an “Advisory SBDM” school. As a high-poverty school, we were in the first cohort to hit priority status under the new regulations, and the SBDM was made “advisory” prior to our arrival. When we found the school, the principal was dynamic and the school was in the midst of a turnaround. Despite being the lowest performing school in the state at the time, the energy was electric, and my son absolutely loved it. Unfortunately, at the end of my son’s first year there, because the principal did not get the school out of priority status in the state’s allotted 3-4 years, he was forced to resign.

His school went the next several months with interim principals, each having to leave after completing 6 weeks of service so they didn’t jeopardize their retirement plans. Soon into the school year, JCPS considered reimagination of several schools with innovation in mind and a district-devised “plan” was proposed and pitched to board members as something “everyone loved.” We were told the plan was necessary in order to “prevent us from being taken over by the state,” even though we had no leadership and no one representing the students or teachers or parents had been consulted in crafting “the plan.” And it was FAR from being “loved.” Finally, after numerous objections from parents, teachers, staff, students, alumni and community members, and speaking at board meetings and to the media, by Christmas break, JCPS Halts Redesign Of Shawnee High, Considering Principal Applicants. Soon, we had a new principal. SBDM meetings resumed and capacity was beginning to resume. However, our new principal left abruptly a year and a half later (two weeks before the end of the school year) and the next principal was not selected until 36 hours before the next school year started. Shawnee was the FIRST school to know they needed a new principal and, despite repeated appeals to the superintendent, it was the LAST one to get one. That would not have happened if we had an empowered SBDM.

Each principal selected by the superintendent was loyal to her, not the students and parents and teachers in the building. With the most recent replacement, the superintendent overlooked the overwhelming support from the SBDM advisory council to name one of the HIGHLY qualified APs in the building who knew the kids and could keep the momentum going. Instead, she put someone she either owed a favor or who she knew would do her bidding in the open slot. And she did so at the last possible moment. Our SBDM implored the superintendent to realize that our kids needed consistency. We even asked if this had been communicated to the new principal. Instead, this new principal changed EVERYTHING. She killed our mentoring program. She realigned the staff and put them in jobs that they weren’t suited for. Not knowing what worked or didn’t work, and not being given time to prepare, she got her marching orders from the superintendent who only saw us as “failing.” Our new principal clearly intended to make her mark, even if it upset the apple cart for these kids, AGAIN.

One week, when student fights had gotten out of control, the principal denied it was a problem. She also apparently didn’t log them in the system, because she didn’t want to look bad or she was following a directive to not report. When pressed, our superintendent claimed she couldn’t help us with added resources, because the “data didn’t support it.” So, our students videotaped the fights and sent them to the media. A few days later, we got the support we needed. Unfortunately, in the school that already had the highest turnover in the district, and where relationships matter, we also got an unwelcome consequence. Three of our most beloved staff members were intentionally moved to different schools. Intimidation tactics were employed that sent the message that more retribution would be necessary if these “factions” continued. One of the displaced staff members was our only high school counselor during critical scholarship and college application window — in a high-poverty school that NEEDS help with college applications and scholarships more than most. This retaliation would never have been able to happen if the SBDM had been involved in staffing decisions.

Our new principal also was able to select members to serve on the advisory SBDM who were not engaged enough to ask hard questions, and often missed meetings. Business could not get done. She chose what she wanted to share for input, and made the important decisions behind closed doors. At one point, I had to do an open records request when we wanted to simply see the budget. This lack of transparency is one of the reasons we have been opposed to charters. We do not need it in our public schools too. It almost seems like someone has an agenda to make public schools on par with charters, doesn’t it? So charters can be more competitive.

My son’s school met its AMOs for several years in a row, but because they couldn’t get out of the bottom 5%, they couldn’t get their SBDM powers back. Such an arbitrary and moving target should not be used to hold decision makers hostage. However, the superintendent could have helped his school meet this goal by simply changing the student assignment plan, since the inequities had never been made right after being assigned the highest poverty levels in the district in 2008, and since test scores are an indication of wealth, nothing more. (Makes you wonder if his school wasn’t set up that way so other schools could be more successful.) Anyway, who is held accountable for the failings of a school when decisions are not in their control? The superintendent is supposed to be, which is why you say you want to give them this power. But there is no evidence anyone is paying the price at my son’s school except the kids.

So, while one county has indicated that there are problems at their schools, there is no reason to abandon parental and teacher involvement in decision making at the local school level in other districts. I can assure you doing so will create many, many more opportunities for delays, lack of transparency and corruption than it solves. Not just here in Jefferson County, but in districts across the state.

Gay Adelmann
Parent of 2016 JCPS Graduate
Former SBDM Member

Want to share your thoughts on SBDMs? Click here to contact the education committee members, or email them all at the same time.