A “live REAP” is one of the reasonable demands that is evolving as part of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda. Therefore, it is imperative that the public not be misled about the existence of this document ahead of the anticipated Board vote on the Student Assignment Plan changes on Sept. 29th. Please contact your board member and remind them that when it comes to the proposed tax increase, they need to #EARNThePeoplesVote.
When efforts to reconcile differences over support of West End and Black families continued to break down, Dear JCPS was left with no other option than to withdraw from the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, Louisville.
“Instead, Dear JCPS is honored to be working with the Kentucky Alliance Education Committee on their revival of the People’s Agenda, to include a list of demands for JCPS. Their organization meets Monday’s at 4:30 PM via Zoom,” Adelmann said. “When the dust settles, we want to be standing on the right side of history. AROS Louisville, under its current leadership, is on the wrong side of history. And we wanted to distance ourselves as quickly and vocally as possible.”
Dear JCPS Superintendent Pollio, Board Chair Porter and Board of Education Members:
During this critical moment in the movement for Black lives, not only across our nation but right here in JCPS, it is unacceptable that JCPS Board Meetings continue via Zoom, without an adequate forum for stakeholders to express our concerns publicly.
Since March, the only way for the public to participate in these meetings has been to send written remarks to the board secretary, who then forwards them to board members and records them in the minutes. At a time when our district is taking great strides to ensure technology is distributed equitably so that even our community’s most impacted families have access, why not encourage this same technology to be utilized for participation in public discourse, as well?
On August 6, leaders from four of the undersigned Black-allied, anti-racist organizations sent an “urgent” email to Dr. Pollio, reminding him that Black and West Louisville families represent a very powerful and important voting bloc in Jefferson County. We warned of grave concerns we were hearing from the community about moving forward with the student assignment plan as proposed, without obtaining buy-in from the impacted community for the tax increase necessary to fund these changes. Instead, grassroots organizations and community members continue to be ignored, shut out, manipulated and misled. Efforts to elevate solutions to these concerns have been met with resistance, barriers or flat out ignored.
On August 11, ahead of the August 18 board meeting, all three co-chairs of the Kentucky Alliance emailed a plea to the Board, noting that stakeholders “can only submit written statements” which “are not read out loud at the meeting.” They further requested the public “be allowed to participate by zoom, phone, or by submitting video or audio statements that will be presented during the meeting.”
For nearly six months, Coalition leaders have been trying to warn JCPS decision-makers of the increasing number of grassroots organizations that feel Louisville’s Black and West End voters have zero appetite for a tax increase at this time. We fear district efforts to further advance this agenda without demonstrating a good-faith effort to earn the vote of Black voters and their allies, is likely to backfire, resulting in a failure of this ballot measure.
If you could hear us, we would want you to know that the People’s Agenda is a living document that focuses on nine important social-justice issues, including Education and Youth Empowerment. If we could speak, we would let you know about the Coalition’s reasonable demands around student assignment and other structural and systemic inequities, so the Board could address them by the next board meeting on September 29, ahead of the November 3 vote.
We, the undersigned, object to yet another board meeting taking place with lack of access, especially at a time when the district must make EVERY EFFORT to ensure impacted stakeholders are part of the decision-making process and their representatives have an ONGOING seat at the table!
On behalf of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda,
Tyra Walker, Shameka Parrish-Wright, Dre Dawson, Co-chairs, The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
Latasha Harrison, Founder, Louisville PTO
De’Nita Wright, Coalition of West Louisville Neighborhood Associations
Michelle Pennix, Retired JCPS Principal, PrincipledPennix
Dennisha Rivers, Founder of Vision of Life Outreach Ministries
Gay Adelmann, Co-founder, Dear JCPS
Leigh Ann Yost, Leigh Ann The Advocate
Gin Spaulding, parent
Ivonne Rovira, teacher
Greg Tichenor, teacher
and countless other marginalized voices yet to be heard
Please give us your feedback following your first two days of NTI in JCPS. If you are a teacher and a parent, please complete the survey twice. If you have students in more than one school, please complete the survey once for each school.
Your name is not required, however, we ask for your email address in order to minimize duplicates or false entries, or to follow up. Thank you!
This is a message we received from a Louisville Catholic school parent:
“The teachers all thought surely the Archdiocese would listen to the Governor’s recommendation. When the Archdiocese announced that they would not be following the Governor’s recommendation, that’s when teachers started reaching out to me.
These are the things I’m most concerned about:
1. Teachers are afraid of losing their jobs, and are not being offered the opportunity to teach remotely instead of in-person. They are afraid of speaking up and talking to their peers for fear of retaliation for organizing as a “union.” Continue Reading
After watching this week’s episode of Save Our Schools with Dear JCPS…
- Complete the survey to let district leaders know your thoughts on safely returning to in-person school.
- Sign the pledge to stand with JCPS Grassroots Organizations as they stand up for our most vulnerable students.
- Join KEU to stay up-to-date with the latest actions and information related to state and national efforts to advocate for students, educators and our community!
Dear JCPS Superintendent and Board of Education,
Tonight, as you weigh difficult, critical decisions regarding when and how to safely return to in-person schooling, we thank you for keeping the health and safety of our students, their families and their teachers and all who work in the service of their care as your primary concern.
No doubt you’ve received numerous and varied points of data regarding this topic. Due to the extra layer of anonymity Dear JCPS provides, combined with our group’s intentional efforts to seek input from impacted community members, we believe that we bring a different perspective to the table.
We hope that you find useful the information reflected in our recent survey results revealing teachers’ willingness and ability to return to in-person schooling. May this feedback, along with parents’ needs, concerns and barriers also captured in the survey, help guide your decision making as you begin to phase-in, pair and prioritize students, adults and classrooms. We hope that you will take a moment to read some of the individual concerns that were shared with us by parents, teachers, staff and administrators, as well, which can be found here:
Later this evening, we will be uploading the most recent episode of Save Our Schools with Dear JCPS. In it, we discuss the purpose of the survey, some surprise revelations regarding the proposed tax increase (including the overlooked West-End, black- and black-allied organizations’ stances on it and efforts underway to prevent them from being silenced), a new program we are proud to launch called Dear JCPS Teachable Moments, and more. We hope you will give it a watch, review the comments, and provide us with your feedback.
Thank you again for your hard work and bravery to make difficult decisions during these uncertain times.
Dear JCPS is proud to launch a new private Facebook group called Dear JCPS Teachable Moments. A lengthier explanation of this new program can be found at the end of this week’s episode of Save Our Schools with Dear JCPS.
If you suspect a JCPS employee is exhibiting reckless or culturally biased behaviors that could put students at risk, you can anonymously email screenshots to email@example.com.
Parents, teachers, staff, administrators, we want to hear from you! Do you prefer to start the school year with NTI, in-person classes, or something in between? If you are a teacher, are you or is someone in your household immunocompromised? If you are a parent, do you face challenges if NTI is your only option? Let us know!
Whether or not you choose to share this message is up to you.
I have been a JCPS parent for the last 7 years. 2020 was officially our last year enrolled in JCPS because we moved. As a college educated, working mother of two, I chose to join [Dear JCPS Private Group] to support the teachers and JCPS public ed. I was at the Capitol supporting the teachers and the students this past year.
While in the past I have taken comfort of being part of this group, I see a divide beginning and thus chose to leave.
As COVID 19 has become a big part of our lives right now, we are all going through new territory. Though the past 4 months have flown by, many scientists and doctors have been working to study all the affects of COVID 19, not just the immediate effects of becoming ill.
And as these facts are shared, I find it very disheartening that the educators of this group choose to ignore all of the impacts so blindly.
While I understand starting the school year will be scary, I must ask you to also consider everyone else in the community. All of the parents in this group are going to work, day in and out, to support our families and the rest of the country through the various types of employment that we hold. We have not had the luxury of staying at home, where it’s safe.
And all the while, we go to work with our masks and do our jobs as expected. Otherwise, we would lose our job.
I think teachers should be thankful that school was closed at the end of the year, so the country could learn more about the virus. But now that we know how to be safe (social distance, masks, hand washing), teacher’s need to get on board with opening schools safely, bring their ideas because we know they have some and push the envelope to get what they need. I have shared my thoughts and ideas with the group, only to be shutdown.
And I’ll end with this… when did teacher’s become better than everyone else? Grocery store clerks, fast food workers, blue collar workers, everyone else is working at their workplace. Only those lucky enough to be able to do their job remotely have the pleasure of staying at home. What you hear parents saying is… we tried to do school at home, it didn’t work, our kids did not learn, primary education is not a job that can be done remotely and be done well.
We need the teachers to pull together with the parents and find the solution that works for all. We need our schools open. Yes because that is how the economy functions, but more importantly because that is where the kids learn best.
I hate to leave the group on such a sour note, but I wish JCPS the best. I hope you all figure it out, for the kids sake.
This is a DRAFT of our legislative priorities for 2020. We want your input! Please help us rank them and provide examples of each of the categories listed below. Suggested edits and additions also welcome.
ACHIEVING EDUCATIONAL JUSTICE in JCPS “with E’S”
FROM OUR JCPS BOARD MEMBERS & SUPERINTENDENT, we demand:
- EVIDENCE-BASED education practices
- Realistic EXPECTATIONS
- EXPERIENCED teachers, staff and leaders
- EMPOWERED students and advocates
- EQUITABLE funding, resources and access
- ENRICHING experiences
- ENGAGING, culturally competent curriculum
- Nurturing and safe learning ENVIRONMENTS
- EXTERNAL community supports
- Supportive and meaningful EVALUATIONS
FROM OUR LOCAL AND STATE LEADERS, we demand:
- Accountability and Transparency
- Authentic Education Reform and
- #FullyFundED Public Schools
To submit your feedback, click here.
XXXXXX is a school in need of something. My child attends there and wants to learn but tells me everyday how disrespectful the kids are to teachers and some teachers spend half their class time trying to gain control of the class.
My daughter has a class with a teacher who can barely speak English and has repeatedly asked to be transferred to another class but it was refused..however a child of another race was transferred out who tells the same story about this teacher..2 different periods where half the class is failing.
I have contacted the counselor and requested my child be transferred still not happening..I’ve contacted the board with my concerns and was told they’d be forwarded to the principal..a week later still no response. My child has a 504 that clearly states her problems and it goes ignored…
what to do
Anonymous submission from a JCPS Parent
Iroquois is not on fire. You are! Bring your buckets of water if that’s what you think because you’re a liar with your pants on fire.
Our school isn’t perfect. You won’t find one that is. Sometimes we have above average challenges and at all times we have an above average staff to meet those challenges. If you’re actually on our staff, Anonymous, you are the weakest link. Transfer season opens in three months and I’ll do your paperwork for you, will gladly help you pack, and hold the door for your tired behind to leave quickly, quietly, and reverently.
You’ve attacked my wonderful principal, our dedicated counselors, our committed staff (amongst whom are proud alumni), and worst of all, our students. You see, my own children, scores of extended family, and all of my godchildren were educated at Iroquois. My son was valedictorian and graduated magna from UofL. Professors couldn’t believe he’d graduated from Iroquois. I could. It’s a great school where, without regret, I’ve dedicated 20 years of my life. I’ve never had a bad day there. Challenges? Yes. I signed up for public school and everything that comes with it. I love my school.
What peeves me about you, Anonymous, is that you choose to hide behind your words. I would not normally give such messiness the time of day, but you attacked something dear to me—my school. You attacked someone dear to me—my colleagues and students.
Stay comfortable in your misery, sad person, because what’s said in the dark will come to the light. But before you post again, let me go low for a moment. According to my writing scoring rubric, I would like for you to work on the following—this one’s on me:
1. Organization is key. Group your rambling thoughts coherently.
2. Though we could understand your miserable letter, transition words would make it a smoother read. If you’re going to insult us, at least smooth out the wrinkles in your pig’s ear.
3. Ramp up your vocabulary to better represent the best of your thinking—unless your vocabulary as presented actually does represent your level of thinking. In that case, sign up for Iroquois where we will teach you to strengthen, well, everything you’ve written.
4. Use concrete examples and skillfully interweave them throughout your writing. Tie in example, explanation, etc. Give your audience a full picture to prove you know what you are writing about. Try not to “list”.
5. Be truthful in your writing. Authenticity is also key.
6. Own your writing with a closing that includes your signature and printed name.
If you are amongst us at the school, you have lost the respect and trust of your colleagues. Maybe you need a hug. Maybe you need Jesus. I don’t know. But what I do know is, while our school is not for every teacher, our school is for every student. We value Iroquois and, like any commitment, we take the ups and the downs with grace. And for those of us who are committed, and I’m included in that number, it has been and it remains a distinct pleasure to work for everything Iroquois.
Don’t ever write another letter like that again.
(c) Aletha Fields, 2019
| Dear JCPS,|
I am a teacher at Iroquois High School. We are on fire. The recent news reports only show a very small portion of the absolute hell our school has become. Today (Friday 11/1/19) I witnessed no less than four fights. This is the norm. A kid sat in traffic on Taylor Boulevard.
We have multiple staff attacked. Let me tell you about the district response:
They sent a bunch of central office people over to stand around. Assistant superintendents Zeitz, Rogers, and a couple others. They don’t know our kids or staff. They stood around and pretended to help, but didn’t do anything.
Half of our teachers don’t even show up anymore, and I’ll be blunt that many of our teachers are terrible, but they’re all we can find.
Our principal is DONE. Our assistant principals don’t want to be here and the kids don’t respect them. Our counselors are done and don’t want to be here.
Our building is on fire and the district does NOTHING.
We need a real principal, real leadership, and real support with chronic misbehavior. JCTA does nothing to support us. We need real leadership and real support.
Please help us.
Iroquois Business and Education Academy Teacher
Louisville Judge sides with Dear JCPS co-founder. Orders JCPS to release PTAs’ financial records to the public.
“In these challenging times, as educators and decision makers explore the glaring inequities in our district and seek ways to resolve them, Dear JCPS wants to make sure every student has an advocate in their corner — especially our most vulnerable students.“
District leaders are to be commended as they grapple with tackling glaring disparities in the current student assignment plan, closing achievement gaps, and reducing behavior and discipline inequities. In addition to these visible inequities, there are often unseen disparities among parental involvement, volunteer and community participation, and fundraising between schools primarily comprised of students whose parents have the social, political and financial capital to advocate for their students to ensure they attend “the right schools,” while those whose parents lack the time, transportation, technology or literacy to navigate the complex system of “choice,” do not.
To that end, Dear JCPS co-founder, Gay Adelmann recently made a routine records request of the largest school district in Kentucky (27th largest in the nation), to obtain copies of local PTAs’ financial records for the past 5 years. These records, which, according to the “Redbook” are required by Kentucky law to be filed annually with each school’s year-end audit, consist of a preliminary budget and a one-page year-end financial review. Her hope was to identify schools that might benefit from a little extra help with programming or fundraising and raise community awareness so that these disparities could be taken into consideration while the district is actively tackling the bigger picture issues.
As often happens when records are held in multiple locations, or when district personnel are unavailable during summer break, the district notified Adelmann that additional time would be required before these records would be made available to her. They informed her she would receive the documents on August 30.
On August 12, Adelmann received an email from Kentucky PTA attorney Coy Travis informing her that his client had filed a complaint in district court to seek injunctive relief in order to prevent the district from turning these records over to her. A hearing was set for August 15 in which she was invited to appear.
With less than three days to prepare, Adelmann sought counsel from pro-bono attorneys and open records experts. They helped her prepare this brief, which was filed during the hearing, but none were able to accompany her in court.
At the hearing, Judge Cunningham was critical of the Kentucky PTA’s request but decided to defer the decision to the Attorney General’s office, in the event all parties were not be able to work out an agreement before then. Adelmann, without an attorney to represent her, trusted the Judge’s decision, and agreed to meet with Kentucky PTA attorney after the hearing to see if they could come up with a mutually beneficial solution. He assured her he would try to help her obtain the documents as long as she asked the “right way.”
Amye Bensenhaver, a former assistant attorney general for Kentucky and a widely recognized open records expert, during this week’s episode of Save Our Schools With Dear JCPS on Forward Radio 106.5 FM said, the Attorney General should never be put in the position of telling an organization NOT to release open records. His job is to get involved when entities SHOULD release documents but are refusing to do so.
Upon further consideration following last week’s court decision, it appears Judge Cunningham agrees. On August 27, as these court documents show, he sided with Adelmann and filed an order for JCPS to release the documents. Kentucky PTA has until September 16 to appeal.
At a time when privatizers are trying to get in through every nook and cranny, influential entities such as Kentucky PTA should be dedicating resources toward revealing predators and exposing their influence. This lawsuit does the opposite.
How much money and time is this lawsuit costing their dues-paying members and taxpayers? More importantly, where was this level of activism when charter schools, vouchers and loss of local parental voice on SBDMs were on the menu? In the past 10 years, only one resolution has been passed at the Kentucky PTA annual convention, and it was one that was initiated by Adelmann.
“This district is taking great steps toward addressing disparities that exist between our school communities. One of those less-often-seen inequities is the availability of parents’ time, talent and treasure,” said Adelmann. “The PTA should be helping us fight undue influences that promote and maintain inequities in our school system, not facilitating it.”
Transparency is the only tool we have to ensure that those with money and power are not using it to advance their agenda while others cannot. As a powerful, influential entity themselves, we have to ask, “What is Kentucky PTA trying to hide?”
Below are some quick links to some of the recent blog posts, board speeches, member letters and news stories regarding the 15th District PTA.
- Dire Warning From a Louisville Public School Mom – Blog post
- The PTA Revolving Door – And a from the floor candidate – News story
- The Board’s Role in Oversight of External Organizations – Board Speech
- District Should Look Into PTA Elections – Board Speech
- Group plans to petition PTA election, says favored candidates were bolded on ballots – News story
- Sign Our Petition! – Blog post
- “Left Outside” Parent – Member letter
- Anonymous Black Teacher: – Member letter
- Why I Decided to “Run From the Floor” for the District-wide PTA Board – Member letter
- Shut Out of My School’s PTA – Member letter
- Take Action! Ensure PTA Elections Remain Equitable – Blog post
- 15th District PTA Officer Election: Candidates “Running from the Floor” – Blog Post
I understand JCPS legal counsel has issued a “hands off” directive regarding oversight of external organizations.
And hand’s off is fine as long as principals and administrators are told the same thing.
But they’re not, and that’s problematic.
I understand that we are under intense scrutiny from the state. Criticism from the audit revealed that our board may have been overstepping in this regard. And we have an upcoming audit and we don’t want anything that could lead to additional state criticism that could potentially lead to state takeover.
I get that.
However, couldn’t excessive Redbook violations, election tampering, Inappropriate use/handling of funds, etc. also leave us vulnerable?
We’ve heard reports from some members who have been called “uncooperative” or “ineffective” when they refuse to do the administration’s bidding
We’ve heard reports of Nepotism, squatting in positions for decades, election tampering, cycling thru positions from school to district to state and back, sometimes in schools where they don’t have children, again, when there are authentic parents wanting to serve.
These organizations could be changing bylaws to allow them to extend term limits, hold clandestine elections and limit who can vote, while changing rules in order to shut out voices of authentic parents and volunteers.
These external organizations have access to our students and their families. They have access to district resources dedicated to them in terms of staff, office space, materials and production. are assured representatives can serve on committees, and are named in documents that govern the oversight of elections that can impact school policy and hiring.
They are not subject to open records. They could be holding vendor fairs in your schools, charging fees to the vendors and not delivering what is promised. Some could be manipulating external organizations to achieve financial means that are disallowed by school and district activity funds.
And they are holding inaccessible elections that are not democratic. For example, one organization’s state convention is this weekend, if you want to vote for officers, you have to pay a $55 registration fee, take time off work, drive to Lexington, pay another $129 in hotel fees, etc.
Who, I ask, is voting for these officers that are supposed to be representing all of us? Do they represent all of us? Or only some? What about our most vulnerable?
Some of these organizations are not racially reflective of district makeup, some of these organizations are pro charter, or at least not anti privatization.
We would to naive to not consider possibility infiltrators. We are allowing these organizations to use our kids to make money and push an anti public school agenda. These organizations should be focused on kids learning.
How do we gauge their effectiveness?
Not every organization is bad. Not every volunteer is an infiltrator. Not every administrator is corrupt. In fact, 99% of them are good. But we’d be naive not to realize that some of them have found ways to exploit the system to their own advantage. To take advantage our our children, especially our most vulnerable populations.
And our board has been elected to represent us, and therefore protect us and our children.
And you have a handout from Redbook that says:
The school or district, with approval of the local board of education, may establish additional guidelines/requirements for the external support/booster organization.
I am a parent of a recent graduate from the Academy At Shawnee, and I became aware of a situation, not at my child’s school, but at another school that serves a very similar population.
I learned that a principal had recruited a teacher to run for president of PTA. How is this not a conflict of interest?
On top of that, this principal had also recruited an outsider to serve as treasurer and had another teacher file to run for a VP position. I believe she did this in order to push out these parents and have those who are loyal to her take majority control of the school’s PTA.
I also learned that the elections were held at 9:30 am during the last day of school, and that people were being allowed to join the PTA and vote on the spot. This gave teachers, who were already in the building, a distinct advantage over parents. This also put them in a precarious position of voting according to their principal’s wishes.
I learned that JCPS employees were helping with the election, and even handling money. And that officers from the State PTA were working with the principal to make decisions about that election that should have been made by the still active PTA board. I learned that lies were told about why the election was postponed, and parents’ characters were tarnished in the process.
Why would a teacher need to be president of the school’s PTA when there are parents willing to do so? Could it be so they can spend the money how the principal wants them to? Could it be so she can get the PTA to put the “agreeable” parents on the SBDM? I have learned that the teacher running for President has a husband and daughter who work in that school. And that they were picked by an SBDM over other qualified candidates. This seems like a conflict of interest since the school’s PTA is involved in the SBDM election process.
I am glad the election was postponed, but I don’t understand why it’s necessary at all. The slate of officers that was proposed by the current board should not be challenged by a bully administration that wants to maintain control. And when it is, this should raise major red flags.
This district, and this board, need to set some clear boundaries that ensure PTA elections, SBDM elections, and PTA monies are off limits to district administration manipulation.
And now I’ve learned that the district has been hit with a class action lawsuit involving racial discrimination. As a taxpayer, I think the board should play a role in at least ensuring there are best practices and protocols in place to prevent this from happening again, because I don’t want to see my tax dollars wasted on lawsuits, if it is possible to avoid another one.
Concerned Parent and Taxpayer
And Why We Are Asking Members of the JCPS Board of Education for Their Help
Thank you for your time! My name is XXXXXX XXXXXXXX. I am a parent of students that attend XXXXXXX and XXXXXXX Middle. I am writing this letter to make you aware of circumstances involving the 15th District PTA. First, let me give you background information about myself.
- PTA President of XXXXXX Elementary for 2 Years
- National PTA Award of Excellence Award
- Raised over $25,000 that went to create different outlets that caused a shift in the minds of students as well as parents
- Served for the past 8 years on different SBDM Boards at XXXXX Elementary and XXXXXXXX
- Fellow of the GCIPL (Prichard Committee)
- Served on Head-start and Early Childhood Committee in Development of George Unseld Early Learning Center
- Zones of Hope Newburg
- Advocating for Parents in JCPS when needed
After seeing several posts on how help was needed in 15th District PTA, I decided that I was going to run to be a Board Member. I wanted to run so that I could go into the schools and help the PTA’s that had low parent involvement and struggling with raising money to get tools needed to help with children. I was notified by the Nominating Committee on a Thursday and was told that an interview had to take place on that same weekend. A weekend in which I already had prior engagements. I voiced my thoughts on how I was not available. But ended up receiving a call anyway because they had a deadline to meet.
The interview went really well from my standpoint and I even gave ideas because they said that they needed ways to get volunteers and I suggested a program that we had come up with at XXXXX Elementary that worked successfully.
That following week the nominating committee had chosen their slate and I wasn’t on the list. I started to think about things and I researched Bylaws and decided to run from the floor. I decided to run from the floor because the Board that was chosen by the nominating committee didn’t reflect the students that the Board represents. I made a post about running and then it became others who wanted to be involved and wanted to see change. We joined together and had people who had made a commitment to change for all children.
We all notified 15th District PTA about what VP Positions that we wanted to run in. We then all had an appointment with the President of the PTA and she spoke about the position and its expectations. I also was told on my call that the reason I wasn’t chosen by the nominating committee was that I had a business. In which, this threw me off because what does that have to do with my commitment to the position that I was applying for and how does a committee who didn’t even ask me about my business know what I can do and who I have behind me? At the time of the call, there were three African American women who all were running from the floor for VP2, VP4, and VP 5.
We all had kids that were in the same District (Area 4) but we knew that it wasn’t just our kids that we were advocating for it would be all kids. In the interview process, the conversation ended up being that we all should run in the same District in which we would all run against each other. We worked it out among ourselves so no one would run against each other. But when the Ballot came out and in the VP 4 Slot it was two of us running against each other. People were told when they showed up to vote, if anyone wrote on the Ballot to correct it the ballot was voided. Ten ballots were voided that night. I can’t help but wonder if they were efforts to correct the VP 4 situation.
I have tried to communicate with the District PTA prior to the actual election day and had a lot of unanswered questions. But I believe the thing that really got me is that the Ballot highlighted who they wanted on their Board versus us. We had questionnaires that we had to fill out and if you read those you would be surprised at how much we have been involved in advocating for children. But I wasn’t chosen because we do not fit into a box and I fight for children at all cost.
I am asking the Board to look into this election and how it was unfairly rigged. We are asking for an election that is not about who the Board Members are connected to but about who can make a great impact on the welfare of all children. Please look at how many members serve as the Head of a Local PTA, District PTA, and State PTA. If the same people are recycling positions how can we create change and how can change occur if they choose who they want and not allowing those who serve as members to choose?
In conclusion, I know that suppressing schools to have 5 Delegates per school to vote for an election and then the actual Board having access to those members is not right. It is sad to see so much going on for an organization about advocating for children.
The views expressed here are those of the author, submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 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.
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.
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)
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 email@example.com.
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.
Our district is headed for a state takeover in 2020 UNLESS we come up with an authentic, community-supported student assignment plan now!
We did not escape it. We only postponed it. We know auditors will be back.
What are we doing about it? Quietly making minor tweaks to the student assignment plan? Or planning a revision that our community can get behind?
We know their intentions are to justify takeover of our district, which means the removal of your powers. I know you know this, but again, I ask, what are you doing about it? Your district administration isn’t going to save you. It’s up to you. It’s why we elected you.
I am not speculating when I make the following statements:
There is a national movement to privatize our public schools, and convert them into charters or worse. Taking over the board gives them power to do this, even if they don’t get their funding mechanism.
They desire to take away local control. Look at what they are doing with SBDMs. I am disappointed that Dr Pollio has come out in support of this bill, by the way. I agree he needs more power, but let’s take it from the state, not from us.
They want to have say over our student assignment plan. Look at HB151 from 2017. But the plan they come up with will be ill-informed and cause more harm than good. Especially to our most vulnerable students who always bear the brunt of ivory-tower decisions.
Closing schools before these vultures have even taken us over is having you doing their dirty work for them! LOOK AROUND THIS NATION at what is happening. Don’t be complicit.
Don’t close a single school in a black, brown or poor community, at least not until you hear recommendations from the student assignment committee. Don’t build a new school in any part of town until you know where the student assignment committee feels the greatest needs are. You are tying their hands and forcing them to work with a plan, instead of the other way around.
This is a teachable moment. We encourage board members to educate their constituents, not put your own district’s wants ahead of the greater good. This is a sin that’s been committed far too often in this district.
The audit mandated a revised student assignment plan. It was the poison pill. But it’s also our brier patch. Authentic, community-supported student assignment plan is our ticket to prevent state takeover.
Please do not blow it.
We’ve been busing our most disenfranchised students from their communities, many against their will, making it impossible to attend parent teacher conferences, pick their child up from school when sick, participate in after-school activities. If it’s good enough for them, why isn’t it good enough for us?
Why aren’t we having this conversation?
If you pass this facilities plan based on projected growth, without considering this possible proposal, you essentially shut us out. Perhaps that’s the district’s plan. But is it yours? We elected this board to represent the taxpayers, parents and students. To course-correct when the administration puts their own or outside interests first. You have 18 months to show us what you’re made of. But this time, it won’t be us voting you out. It will be Wayne Lewis and ALEC and their enablers.
Let’s ask parents with means, transportation, and time to carry some of this burden for the next decade. Why shouldn’t families in the West End have the same opportunities my child had?