On June 7, 2019, I got a call from a Black mom who had been serving as president of her child’s PTA at Crums Lane Elementary in the Shively neighborhood of SW Louisville. She and the school’s white principal had been butting heads and I had been made aware of some of their issues, but I really didn’t expect them to go this far. She was running for her second term as president, but the hostilities and microagressions only got worse.
The mom told me a white teacher had been recruited to run against her for president and because the election was being held during the school day, and employees were being told to come down and join and vote, she was concerned the teacher would have an unfair advantage. When she realized what was happening, she notified me, and I jumped in my car and made the drive to Crums Lane to witness the criminal event. On my way, I made the above post on social media and texted Dr, Pollio. I also called my friend De’nita to see if she could meet me there.
After I pulled into the parking lot, I turned on my recorder and walked into the school. You can hear me start talking to people I see on my way in around the 45 second mark.
If you listen to the whole thing, you will hear a lot more than just an unfair election taking place. You will hear a JCPS employee repeatedly handling PTA money, which is a blatant Redbook violation (for a reason that will become more evident as this story develops). You will also hear Cheri Dimar, a top KY PTA officer, collaborating with the principal, not the current president, about what to vote on in addition to the PTA election, as if they work for her and not the members and stakeholders in the school. You will hear the principal, who is aware that I’ve come because of their attempted coup, try to explain to me all the reasons she thinks she is justified in her behavior. You will hear a teacher say she was told to come down and vote. You will hear instructions given on how to vote by holding up a card, which means everyone will be able to see how everyone else votes, placing additional pressure on staff to vote for the teacher.
On June 3, 2019, just four days prior, Latasha Harrison and I met with Dr. Pollio and I played a shortened version of the meeting where several 15th District PTA officers conspired to fraudulently vote me off their board in 2017. He expressed surprise at these events, which had unfolded prior to his tenure. He seemed to be in agreement that things should be different than they are, and that he would consult with legal counsel on ways they can work with us to level the playing field. He stated his belief that JCPS employees should only serve on PTA leadership when parent volunteers are unavailable.
When I arrived at the school, there was a sign in table. 15th District PTA had representatives there holding court and answering questions, making up rules if necessary. The JCPS employee who is directly responsible for keeping the superintendent’s PTA in line was also there. I signed up to join the PTA so I could vote. He had to handle my money in order to give me change. This is a Redbook violation. This continues the entire time. More hushed conversations are happening in corners. Teachers are coming down from their classrooms to join and vote. Announcements are made.
I reported the violation and unfair advantage given to the employee candidate to Dr. Pollio. Given our conversation just days earlier, I hoped he would intervene when he became aware of these latest developments, and I believe he must have, because after close to an hour of chaos, people going back and forth into meetings, and confusion, the election portion of the program was finally canceled. It would be rescheduled for the spring. By then, Mom told me she had already made up her mind she would be changing schools and they could have their PTA.
On June 13, 2019, a speaker spoke at a board meeting about the events of June 7. On June 14, the ousted Crums Lane parent came on our radio program to give an update on the latest developments. You can hear the speaker’s comments and the initial response to our prior speeches from JCPS Board Chair Diane Porter and JCPS Chief Counsel Kevin Brown in the radio program.
Listen around the 8-9 minute mark and you’ll hear about more Redbook violations and possible motivations for controlling who serves on the PTA and SBDM seats, such as being able to hire family members and friends for easy/high paid jobs in the school, or fundraising money to use for spoiling white teachers (not family engagement) at a 95% minority school. You may even hear about some criminal activities. Someone really should investigate. I’m happy to show you where to look.
The following week, we interviewed Latasha Harrison. I will add that link when I have a minute.
On January 14, 2020, I spoke at the JCPS board meeting. I not only reminded the board and Dr. Pollio about numerous racial bias incidents and criminal events that have been taking place at Crums Lane, Maupin, Manual, as well as with maintenance workers, I provided them with an entire folder of evidence. I also reminded them of educators and parents who had experienced targeting in their schools for raising these concerns with their administration.