I can’t say for sure what makes everyone tick, but what I can do is notice when a person’s actions don’t align with their words, or when they do things that cause harm to people they claim to be trying to help, despite us literally telling them to their faces that their behaviors are harmful. Whether they are doing it intentionally (like they are paid infiltrators), or because their value system causes them to sympathize with fascists, or they have some kind of mental health disorder that causes them to easily fall for the gaslighting and bullshit. I don’t know. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. The outcome is the same. So until we devise a “privatizer-breathalyzer,” we’re going to have to err on the side of caution.
So, let me tell you the reason for making this post now. We’ve always known we couldn’t trust everything that came out of BIPPS, Pegasus, SCALA, Pritchard Committee, Kentucky Youth Advocates, or even JCPS, JCTA, KEA, KDE or PTA for that matter. But we demonstrated that we could easily organize and shut them down, and we did several times between 2013 and 2018, so it’s only been of late that the dark money is really clamping down and pulling out all the stops. I believe this includes activating some “sleeper cells” that have been laying dormant while aiding and abetting the devil’s work in the mean time. Two of those individuals are now running for House as Democrats, so I just wanted to warn you. Not everyone who says they are with us really are. I believe you deserve to know some of the facts that I have been made aware of so you can do your own research and form your own opinions. So for the next few days, I will do my best to provide you with such information.
The first bit of data I would like to provide is about my experiences with Jonathan Lowe. Jonathan is a candidate for the “new” House District 34. I first met Jonathan when I began publicly expressing frustrations with the district and they had trouble keeping my objections under wraps. We had coffee together early on in my “squeaky wheel” phase. I remember having to beg to get that meeting, and as we sat there that rainy morning in the middle of the Heine Brothers on Douglass Loop, as I came hopeful to share valid, quantifiable concerns and well-thought out solutions, I still remember the words he said to me that ran through my heart like an arrow. He said, “it’s detrimental to my career to be seen with you.” Like we were somehow doing something wrong! Shouldn’t appeasing a disconcerted customer be seen as a good thing? Honestly, the rest of the meeting was so depressing because I realized it didn’t matter what I said to him from that point forward. After the meeting was over, I went back to my car and cried. I also made this post.
Later on, after the SCALA-led JCPS school board chair “sewer billed” the renewal of Dr. Hargens’ contract against the wishes of the community, causing us to be stuck with her for another four years. We organized a rally at Van Hoose one Tuesday evening to ask (demand) her to step down. Some time between that event and the day she actually did resign, I ran into Jonathan at a committee meeting in Frankfort. I can’t remember the bill we were there to speak on but I remember getting a cold shoulder from him and saying something to him like, “Dude, I’m on your side.” This elicited an outburst from him so loud that we had to step into an empty committee meeting room across the hall. He said, “You’re trying to get my boss fired!” I corrected him and said, “no, I’m trying to get her to step down.”
On another occasion, Mr. Lowe chirped with glee when some of the language he wrote while working for the Legislative Research Council made it into the charter school bill. See, this is what made me think he has never really felt one way or the other about charter schools. From an employment perspective, he was in a role that would likely thrive either way. So, it dawned on me, FINALLY, that perhaps, the Hargens administration saw charter schools as “inevitable” and they were doing the best they could to untether some assets so that it would be easy to allow the predators to have easy access to some low-performing schools in West Louisville and keep their precious Manuals, Males, Browns and other “public privates” off limits.
So, when Matt Bevin got elected in November of 2015, he proclaimed something to the effect, “We’re going to bring charter schools to Kentucky and we’re going to start in West Louisville.” Next thing I knew Hal Heiner, Bevin’s pick to eventually become KDE chair, was scouting locations such as Shawnee and Maupin. My sniffing around and exposing fraudulent acts at both of these schools, which I will document in future posts, is what caused for JCPS administrators and PTA leaders to conspire to have me voted off the 15th District PTA Board three months before my term ended. For any doubters, I will post the recording of that meeting, as well as my confrontation of them the following evening, below:
Want to see more?
I was at Shawnee one day and I saw Jonathan walking to his car. I rolled down my window and said, “I hear Hal Heiner was here today. How did it go?” Fine, or something to that effect. I don’t know. But I decided to do an open records request to see what I could find out about his visit. Sure enough, Jonathan was knee-deep in these events. Why knows why they were there? They didn’t say it was about charter schools, but it didn’t have to be. They were already public with their intentions. Why are we parading these schoolchidren and buildings to known predators?
To those who say Jonathan was just doing his job, can we really fault him for that? Personally, yes, I do, because simultaneously we were bringing him evidence of harm and wrongdoing, and he treated me like the enemy while he helped these predators and outsiders gain access to our schools and students. That’s problematic.
This was just Shawnee. I have a whole other set of data regarding his role with what went on at Maupin. Besides, nothing has changed. He has showed us that no matter who signs his paycheck, he will be loyal to them, not the students or taxpayers. He still works for JCPS, and JCPS administration does not always do the right thing! So can we really afford to take any more chances? Every chess piece and every square on the chess board is sacred. We must be organized, with specific demands and specific goals. Here’s a link to an invitation I sent out regarding the person who is running against Jonathan in the Primary on May 17. Please help us get Sarah Stalker elected to House District 34 so we can avoid allowing another establishment, status quo lawmaker making ivory tower decisions for the rest of us. When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
Now playing on Soundcloud, this week’s episode of Save Our Schools With Dear JCPS is part of our new “Pattern or Practice” Series. This series features historical records from the Audio Archives tab. These podcasts attempt to tell the true stories of what really happened behind the scenes in JCPS as we continue the work to dismantle structural racism in the district.
My name is Gay Adelmann. I am the co-founder and president of Dear JCPS. In March of 2017, JCPS leaders conspired to vote me off the 15th District PTA board after I advocated for Maupin Elementary students and families. Don’t take my word for it, listen to excerpts from two of those meetings on this week’s program. The longer versions of these conversations and more can also be found there, with more being added regularly.
WHY IT MATTERS? These types of patterns and practices continue to harm West Louisville families and schools to this day. Sign our petition here.
Dear JCPS is publishing this piece as part of a series dedicated to identifying patterns or practices of discrimination in JCPS. To sign our petition to encourage the US Department of Justice to investigate JCPS and its outside entities, please click here.
At this moment, JCTA PR’s (Professional Representatives, also known as “building representatives”) are expected to be voting to approve proposed bylaws changes that will make it possible for a handful of their officers to discriminate against members who advocate for minority populations, and even remove them from their elected roles on the organizations’ board.
Think it can’t happen here? It already has.
Recent controversy, including betrayals from endorsed elected officials, a botched political action committee (PAC) election and a challenge to JCTA’s General Election, and other things they’re not telling you, the incumbent JCTA officers have been feeling the heat more than usual. Having personally experienced a similar series of events when I was serving as a Vice President for the 15th District PTA in 2017, I recognized this latest maneuver to modify the bylaws as a means to force out anyone who the establishment leadership disagrees with as something similar that happened to me and several other JCPS moms who stood up for schools in West Louisville. In fact, in March of 2017, the 15th District PTA Board voted to remove me for speaking up for parents and students at Maupin Elementary, a high-poverty, high-minority population school in the district’s highly segregated “West End.” And in 2019, they conducted a closed-door emergency bylaws meeting in order to prevent me from serving, had I been elected when I and five other parents “ran from the floor” to serve on the 15th District PTA Board.
As you can hear from the short audiotape I made from that Emergency Board meeting that night, “duty of obedience” was cited as grounds for the motion for my removal. It will be interesting to watch as JCTA looks for ways to target anyone who is disloyal to their organization. The entire recording of the 2017 meeting, as well as follow-up meetings, can be found on our website under the Audio Archives tab. More will continue to be added.
If there was ever an ideal time for students concerned about educational justice to “opt out” of high stakes testing, this is it! Due to the pandemic, the scores won’t count, so why are they being administered at all? Because the federal government threatens to withhold badly needed funding if we don’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them, even when we know they are harmful to our most vulnerable students and schools, and divert money and time away from what actually matters. We’ve put together some tools and resources to support families who want to learn more about their rights and responsibilities around KPREP. Visit www.dearjcps.com/refuse-KPREP.
A new section of our website has been created to archive evidence and provide real-life examples of systemic or institutionalized racism within JCPS that have been documented by our group’s organizers.
Some of these patterns include:
Abuse of power. Such as blacklisting, or bullying, to maintain power and “send a message”/terrorize.
Retaliation. Such as causing harm to or making threats against those who report harmful behavior.
Setups. Such as assigning impossible/competing tasks so every possible outcome results in .
Fraud. Manufacturing or tampering with evidence.
Election Tampering. Rigged or heavily influenced elections, whether it be JCTA, PTAs or SBDM’s and other outside groups’ own internal elections, or them putting their thumbs on the scales of justice and politics by influencing everything from school board races and General Assembly elections, to the passage of a tax increase on the 2020 ballot.
Cover ups. Hiding “bad news” or honest mistakes, turning the inconvenient truth into fraud.
Waste of taxpayer dollars. High-priced attorneys and even higher-priced secret settlements are costing taxpayers unknown millions of wasted dollars. Dirty administrators, protected by poorly written laws, continue committing the same offenses. Internal investigations, of course, finds no wrongdoing, so nothing changes. The avoidable pattern repeats. The system’s downward spiral intensifies with each uncorrected punch.
Doubling down. Denied or delayed responses to claims of discrimination, even when we show them they are doing it, they refuse to see or acknowledge the disparities and the role they continue to play.
Where does it end? Many who see it or are victims of it themselves burn out or move out to keep themselves and their families safe and sane. Others clock out in unhealthy or self-destructive ways. Many succumb to it, by way of death, dysfunction, homelessness, bankruptcy, shame, job loss, physical or mental health, incarceration, the legal system, addiction or suicide. But the lucky ones simply get numb to it. They have tried and failed enough times to know that any continued efforts of speaking up against an injustice bring unwanted attention and negative outcomes to them and theirs. They are watching the clock and hoping they can keep their heads down and try to go about their lives and work unnoticed until retirement, even if it is less than what they were promised. This describes every teacher I know who has been doing this job more than 10 years. The rest of us, who refuse to participate in the nonsense, what’s left for us? We have reached the end of the road and the only solutions left seem to be a jury of their peers or pitchforks. And I’m not seeing any indication that the court of law is ready for this conversation. We are seeing how the repeated failure of leadership to address the needs and rights of the people eventually plays out in other countries’ wars right now.
We talk about how our problems are because the kids misbehave with no consequences, well, the worst offenders in JCPS think they are untouchable and they treat the deep Jefferson County taxpayer pockets as their personal legal slush fund.
Some of the specific events where discrimination took place that we’ve documented thus far, include:
Investigation into allegations against Manual Principal Jerry Mayes.
PTA, SBDM and JCTA elections, bylaws and practices favoring JCPS administration, not members/stakeholders.
(2023) Jacob Elementary (White principal finally giving in to requests from Black mother to start the PTA. When it’s time for elections, teachers are recruited to run against Black parents, Black mothers are forced to run against one another)
(2019) Crums Lane Elementary (White principal favored White teachers and forced out engaged Black parents, 15th District PTA participated in fraudulent election, employees violated Redbook policy)
(2019) 15th District PTA Board Elections – (White parent and non-parent leaders pitted Black parents against one another, gave favored candidates preferential treatment, violated their own policies, held controlled and illegal membership meeting to change policies to prevent “from the floor candidates” from being eligible to serve if elected, and so much more, even admitted to committing fraud in future meeting)
(2020) Better Schools Kentucky Botched Election – pitted Black teachers against one another for rare at-large openings instead of nominating them for one of a dozen standing seats controlled by the president, tried to explain away numerous anomalies for their botched election results before finally admitting error, manipulating their bylaws in the favor of their preferred candidate, ruling the previous election invalid so they could hold a new one in a scenario where they could have more control and influence over results, in order to ensure their preferred candidate was the ultimate winner.
(2016) Maupin Elementary (SBDM manipulated by district leaders into voting to approve the superintendent’s recommendation AFTER she had already notified the state the decision had been made)
And several other examples of a handful of white leaders misstating facts, changing rules, policies and bylaws to suit the agenda of those in power and favor continued power of their preferred candidates (or no one at all) over BIPOC and their allies.
Fraudulent discontinuation of board-approved programs in West Louisville schools
Academy @ Shawnee Grades K-12 (discontinued before it started)
Academy @ Shawnee middle school magnet (corrupted within two years)
Waldorf-styled program at Maupin Elementary (SBDM told how to vote after state had been notified).
Challenger Center at Shawnee (out-of-date data used to justify outsourcing operations)
Wrongful retaliation against Maupin educators, parents/guardians, students, and their advocates.
Union complicity in targeting whistleblowers and advocates.
Some of the discriminatory practices we’ve documented include:
Failure to oversee and curtail outside organizations’ role in perpetuating systemic racism, despite repeated requests.
Biased and dead-ended internal investigations process.
Shutting out, silencing or derailing voices of grassroots organizations demanding racial equity.
Retaliation against those who blow the whistle on civil rights violations as well as waste, fraud and abuse.
Fraudulent elections including giving an unfair advantage to white or white-favored candidates, declaring fair elections “invalid” so they can run them again more carefully controlled, changing rules if necessary, and declaring winners using secretive, proprietary tools that only they have full access to.
Flat out denial that they are doing anything wrong! Refusal to fix or acknowledge even the most glaring examples. Keep repeating the same harmful behaviors. No wonder things have gotten this bad.
Toxic, bully, racist administrators
Admins who back their direct reports, no matter what, including helping them avoid consequences for behaviors unbecoming of a JCPS employee.
Biased internal investigations, fraud, changing the rules, gaming the system.
Rigged internal elections of support organizations (PTA, SBDM, JCTA, AROS) and undemocratic decision-making.
Shutting down and out engaged parents and employees who bring solutions, good ideas, and raise concerns when necessary.
How can we blame parents when the district refuses to let them in?
Willful incompetence or obliviousness, refusing to acknowledge classic behaviors of organized crime, coverups and racism, therefore nothing ever improves.
Shit rolls downhill, so lowest ranking employees end up taking the brunt of leaders’ poor decision-making, decreasing recruitment and retention of new employees.
How can we expect our children exhibit behaviors when adults in charge refuse to model them?
Other reports of criminal behavior
Denial of due process, refusal to accept grievances
Disciplining/suspending students from bus or school without due process or proper record keeping
Election tampering, including changing school district boundaries to affect candidates’ eligibility and plotting and scheming to influence the outcome of the tax increase ballot measure on technicalities, without accountability.
Failing to provide students with disabilities their mandated instructional hours and support services, covering it up, retaliating.
Covering up sex, drugs and human trafficking rings involving minors.
We are working on a list of demands, which includes an outside audit of internal investigations, lawsuits and settlements, as well as an oversight committee that is similar to the one that was created by the legislature for oversight of LMPD. We need an equivalent of an Inspector General and Civilian Oversight Committee for JCPS. We, the people, demand an avenue for checks and balances to protect against abuses like these within our government. Dear JCPS welcomes the opportunity to continue to build and share our understanding of what the community’s vision of that looks like.
This post will be updated. If you have examples of these events occurring in JCPS that you wish to have us consider adding to this list, please email email@example.com or text 502-565-8397.
Jefferson County Teachers’ Association leadership has put together some proposed changes to their bylaws. These changes appear to include language that will make it easier for the status quo to hold on to their power and silence anyone who dare speak up.
These tactics are eerily similar to those employed by the 15th District (Jefferson County) PTA two years ago when Black, Brown and BIPOC-allied JCPS parents asked their elected School Board and National PTA to intervene after dues-paying members’ efforts to try to hold their entrenched white leadership accountable were unsuccessful. The entire litany of PTA infractions can be found here. The text of the proposed JCTA Bylaws changes can be found here.
I know you’re busy, and there’s an overload of information out there, so I tried to take what I think you need to know about public education in Jefferson County, Kentucky this week and cram it into our weekly 59-minute podcast. But because 59 minutes is still a HUGE commitment, I coupled it with a 4-minute teaser and an 23-minute take-out, so you can be like Goldilocks and find the portion that’s “just right” for your appetite and schedule.
Here’s the 4-minute teaser. Even if you end up listening to the entire podcast, I think this snip is worth hearing more than once.
Here’s the video of what I thought were the most telling snips from the KET 2021 Legislative Recap, complete with video, which make up the first 23 minutes of the podcast.
Fierce and ready with the facts, House Rep. Angie Hatton keeps forked-tongued Damon Thayer in his place while everyone’s favorite Senator Morgan McGarvey says what everyone wants to hear. Unshaven Steve Rudy appeared to be a last-minute stand in.
Here’s the entire 59-minute podcast, featuring audio from our 2018 and 2019 archives, along with an actual photo from the day’s events, just to keep it real.
Also, added a little treat for those who make it all the way to the end. 😉
A behind the scenes look at Kentucky’s modern education reform history.
The day was March 28, 2019. It was the last day of a 30-day legislative session. Teachers in the state’s largest school district, Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) had just successfully “sicked out” six of the last seven days legislature was in session. I say “sickout” not strike, because it’s illegal for a union to call for a strike in Kentucky.
A number of predatory education bills, including HB205, the pension reform bill that put new teachers in a defined contribution plan, on the heals of 2018’s session, when a sewer bill was stripped in an effort to force a pension bill through in the dark of the night, kept JCPS teachers, and current and retired teachers across the state, on high alert.
By mid-March, district and union leaders were working out compromises, and failing at working out compromises, in an effort to get teachers to “settle down.” They also wanted “rouge groups” like Dear JCPS and other teacher-led groups like JCPS Leads and TRELF to stop encouraging it. They were going so far as to convince high-profile “pro-public education” JCTA-endorsed legislators from both political parties to write joint statements promising no more harmful legislation would be passed this legislative session, and then tagging us in their tweets.
After the last sickout on March 14th, there were no more days of session until March 28th. One lone day sitting on the horizon to cram as much garbage into the garbage disposal and see how much harm you can inflict on the unsuspecting before they are forced to gavel out at midnight. It’s like this every year. So why should teachers trust that a supermajority GOP-led legislature won’t mislead them this year?
For this reason, we decided to plan a rally in the Capitol Rotunda for the last day of session. We wanted to be prepared because we had every reason to believe that teachers and parents would be back.
On the last day of session, the rally began at 10 AM. We had speakers and provided materials to make posters. The turnout was lower than we had anticipated. We learned that JCTA had called for a meeting with teachers in the Annex at the same time as our rally in order to compete with our event. In addition, they only had 300 teachers sign up to come to Frankfort as delegates, instead of the 500 that was part of the compromise. Although, very few were in the Capitol when it mattered.
Following the rally in the Rotunda, our group headed toward the Senate, where they were expected to gavel in at noon. At 11:55, I begin livestreaming from the Dear JCPS Facebook page, as we stand at the bottom of the Senate steps to encourage Senators to vote against the 9 resolutions that would confirm Governor Bevin’s anti-public education picks to the Kentucky Department of Education, a full year after he controversially appointed the remainder of them, (and who later sued the Governor after he removed them on his first day in office in 2019). One confirmation in particular that we had concerns about was Senate Resolution 240, which added another two years to pro-voucher EdChoice Director Gary Houchens‘ term.
WHISTLEBLOWERS: If you would like to confidentially report examples of violations of students’ rights or you experienced retaliation for reporting them to your employer and/or appropriate agencies, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. #MakeItStop
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