Louisville, KY — In February of 2017, I organized a rally to call for the resignation of the district’s wildly unpopular Superintendent, Dr. Donna Hargens. What happened next was a series of lies, set-ups, and maneuvers to not only push me off the PTA board without a legitimate “cause,” but to prevent me and others who “rocked the boat” by advocating for Black, Brown, and poor kids in Louisville’s “West End” from having a chance to serve.
In 2021, I raised these concerns because we witnessed similar behaviors by the largest teachers’ union in the state, Jefferson County Teachers Association.
It is my belief that JCPS exhibits a “pattern or practice” of discrimination, and that it lacks the ability and will to self-correct. Please join me in petitioning the US Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into patterns or practices such as these.
Timeline of Events
Below is a similar pattern of events that took place from 2017-2019, along with links to recordings and other documentation, including evidence that district leaders were made aware.
On February 20, 2017, I published this blog post, Time to Go! and also emailed it to our subscriber base.
The next day, February 21, 2017, I received a phone call from a WHAS reporter wanting to do an in-camera interview about the upcoming rally that night. I was on my way out the door to attend a PTA Meeting at Maupin Elementary, so I invited the reporter to meet me outside of Maupin half an hour prior to the PTA meeting. I also invited Barbara Boyd to join me, which she did. That interview is here:
Following the interview regarding the rally, which took place on the public sidewalk outside of Maupin, I signed in to the PTA meeting in the school’s office. I had been invited by the PTA president and other officers, who were uneasy about Adam Kesler’s intentions. The meeting turned out to mostly be about the Platinum Royalties program, which I was in charge of, so I gladly provided literature, brainstormed about dates and distribution, and answered questions.
During the meeting, I received the above call from Board member Chris Brady, which I stepped across the hall to return. When the call was over, I went back to the PTA meeting, which had adjourned and I left shortly thereafter. The events that took place at that meeting, as well as evidence that was manufactured to justify the motion to remove me from the board are described in detail during the emergency PTA Board meeting. An audio recording of the meeting can be heard below.
Later that evening, several groups came together to call for the resignation of Dr. Hargens ahead of a JCPS Board of Education meeting.
Shortly after the event, I received a phone call from then-president of 15th District PTA, Heather Wampler, asking me to resign from the PTA Board, where I had served in various Vice Presidential roles since 2014.
I was surprised by this request so I asked where it was coming from. Heather admitted to me that Dr. Hargens wanted me off the Board. I asked Heather if she informed the Superintendent that my term was up in June and she said she did. She expressed to me that Dr. Hargens had threatened to take away the personnel, space and other support the PTA receives for the organization’s clothes closet and that she might not allow PTAs to continue to have access to JCPS schools.
Recognizing this as a potentially bad PR move that would easily cement Dr. Hargens’ fate, I encouraged Heather to call her bluff. She declined, so I informed Heather that I would not be giving in to this kind of pressure, and if Dr. Hargens wanted me gone, the Board would have to vote me off. We discussed Dr. Hargens’ anticipated departure, and even joked about how I could come back to PTA once she is gone.
Concerned about some of the things I had witnessed at Maupin, including a complaint from another parent who had been pushed off the PTA Board and lied on, I submitted an open records request to see what I might find.
On Sunday, March 5, 2017 an emergency PTA Board meeting was held, during which several false claims about my presence at a Maupin PTA meeting the month before, were made, including the letter that was supposedly written by Maupin Principal, as well as the timing and purpose of my attendance at the PTA meeting. A recording of the key pieces of the March 15, 2017 PTA Executive Board meeting can be found here:
Despite backlash from her loyalists, our community efforts calling for her to step down were successful:
In May, I received a copy of an email that had been sent to the new president, Autumn Neagle, regarding newly elected president-elect Adam Kesler, and concerns about her removal from the Maupin PTA Board without due process. In a phone conversation with this parent, I learned that PTA money had come up missing, and instead of investigating what happened, she had been blamed. Kesler told others in the building that this parent was no longer allowed to serve on the Board, but not a lot of detail was given. She later learned about the accusations that had been made against her, and sent this email to Autumn.
Fast forward to the 2020-2021 school year, and we are witnessing many of the same maneuvers, this time by a different outside entity, Jefferson County Teachers Association.
October, 2020 – First we caught JCTA’s entrenched white leadership in the act of rigging who they put on the committee that selects which candidates to endorse. JCTA member and outspoken critic of Jason Nemes, Kenyata Dean Bacon won the election but the screenshot of the tallies they shared told a different story. When pressed to explain some of the anomalies in the screenshot, they could no longer deny that Bacon was the actual winner. They acknowledged their miscalculations but then (after a meeting to determine if the margin of victory needed to be majority or plurality, since this was new territory), they said it was “too close” and there needed to be a run off. Supposedly, their pick, who wanted to take more of a “wait-and-see” approach to Nemes, won the run-off. We’ll never know.
Watch the video below and read more about the Botched BSK Elections here.
Not to mention, the executive board for JCTA is up for election every three years. The most recent election was riddled with so many violations by the entrenched white leadership that there was a legal challenge filed by several of the “underdog” teachers. Conveniently, JCTA lawyers get to decide if any rules were broken, and of course, none were. An ethics violation was also filed with the LRC’s Office of Educational Accountability. Also, nothing they could do.
Here’s a copy of the complaint. Decide for yourself.
But if that wasn’t enough, the powers that be came up with some additional screws they could tighten in case any of their “rogue” members decided to act up again. Same plays we saw from the PTA’s entrenched white leadership. I wonder if they were recruited by the same folks who recruited Bevin and his friends. Sure seems like it.
A recent election scandal at our local University of Louisville Student Government Association also follows these same #PatternsAndPractices we’ve seen in JCPS. McConnell has a great deal of influence there, so it makes sense.
While running for JCPS school board, I participated in a PTA forum. During the forum, I invited the PTA to have a restorative meeting with me and clear the air about what happened. Of course, that still hasn’t happened. However, due to past experiences that have caused a lack of trust in my “allies,” such as the forum at the League of Women Voters where they deleted the debate I was in, I carried a hand-held recorder in my pocket to capture what was said at the forum. As I was leaving the forum, I started into a conversation with a state representative from Kentucky PTA who wanted to know more about what I hoped to accomplish with a restorative meeting. Our conversation continued into the foyer as my recorder still captured the entire conversation. You can listen to it here: