Maintenance Workers’ Lawsuit

Below is an outline of events that took place, as well as some unanswered questions we still have. Some of the content requires a subscription.

2019-03-31 | Maintenance Employees meet with Kentucky Alliance representatives

2019-06-06 | Two stories from WDRB

From the article:

“Kevan Sheppard works as a custodian at Price Elementary. He says he was retaliated against after reporting a co-worker watching a video that included Caucasian people talking about going ‘ni***r hunting’ over the weekend.

‘I was being threatened,’ Sheppard said. ‘My work was being scrutinized. I was being followed. They were sitting out in the parking lot. They were watching my comings and goings. They were using other employees to come and do it for them.'”

“‘This is a case about a systemic pattern or practice of discrimination,’ attorney Pete Jannace said.”

2019-06-06 | Group Sues JCPS for Racial Discrimination (Source: WHAS)

2019-06-06 | JCPS Faces Class Action Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination (Source: WFPL)


2021-07-02 | Complaint received.

2021-09-01 | An investigation against one of the employees in the department, Shaum Woodcock, is completed (two months later), The findings are “unsubstantiated.”

Note the careful wording of the statement from the conclusion of the 2021 investigation report. It states,

“This investigator finds the allegation that Mr. Woodcock said inappropriate comments to Ms. Brooks to be unsubstantiated. Despite examples provided to this investigator by Ms. Brooks via face to face interview and included in her written statement (Attachment A), every potential witness interviewed denied ever witnessing Mr. Woodcock make any inappropriate comments directly to Ms. Brooks, about Ms. Brooks, or intended for Ms. Brooks in a “passive aggressive,” indirect manner. The multiple potential witnesses interviewed during the course of the investigation included Zachary Maupin, Gary Mitchell, Shaun Woodcock, Michael Smith, Steven Conder, Robert Marler, Teresa Purvis, and Jorge GarciaLemes.
Additionally, there was no video or audio evidence available that would support a substantiated finding. Furthermore, despite Mr. Woodcock’s seemingly abrasive verbal exchange with Mr. Smith in a restroom (as the discussion related to Ms. Brooks’ concerns), there was still no evidence to indicate Mr. Woodcock made inappropriate comments towards Ms. Brooks at any time.”

JCPS investigators have exhibited a “pattern or practice” of focusing their investigation on what was explicitly said directly TO the victim as opposed to words or attitudes exhibited ABOUT the victim. This allows them to narrow the questions they ask to result in favorable outcomes to the perpetrator. Furthermore, their investigations can remain “truthful” because they soften the allegations, narrow the scope and disregard any evidence that shows the victim experienced harm or was discriminated or retaliated against. It’s as if they have a predetermined desired outcome, and they conduct their investigation and filter what goes into the report in order to achieve said outcome.

This is similar to an ongoing case involving Kimberly Johnson vs. JCPS, where a kindergarten teacher was accused of calling her Black students “monkeys, dummies and little shits.” The investigator’s report found the allegations to be unsubstantiated because they conveniently focused on whether there was any evidence the white teacher she said these words TO them and not ABOUT them, even though that was not the only concern that had been reported.

The first investigation into Woodcock may have been unsubstantiated, but it went on to say,

“Mr. Maupin noted that during the previous week, Mr. Woodcock was “terminated” for an unrelated matter.”

What? How convenient!

2021-09-02 | His personnel file shows his termination was issued and rescinded on the same day, apparently backdated as of 07-15-2021. The paperwork reads:


How convenient it must be to have friends in high places who are willing to manipulate the truth in your favor, while simultaneously protecting themselves.

2022-03-23 | KYIBRS Report “Terroristic Threatening,” including stating he “Has a gun in his car and would use it to blow the heads off of victims.”

2022-03-25 | An investigation request is submitted by maintenance worker Shawn Blackston.

Later that day, Raymond “Jimmy” Harper sends an email to high-ranking JCPS officials, recognizing that an internal investigation is taking place simultaneously, he provides a 3rd party report, which confirms the threats issued by Woodcock have been an “ongoing and aggressive issue for a consistent period of time.” He appears to recommend immediate action. One of the attachments is titled “3rd offense” which begs the question “which one was second?” since there are only two investigative reports.

2022-06-21 | Livestream on Gay’s Campaign Page talks about the ORR I did for the maintenance employees and my own school board members’ refusal to listen, which turned into false accusations against me. I continued to bring this unresolved issue up during my campaign for school board in the Fall of 2022, which may have helped the second investigation to finally get some traction and closure.

Despite the lawsuit taking place in 2019, we are unaware of any settlements. Instead, two separate complaints against one employee appear to have made it possible for the district leaders and taxpayer funded legal slush fund to skirt any responsibility or accept wrongdoing. For now.

A review of Mr. Woodcock’s personnel file reveals that he went on FMLA on 08-18-2022 and was scheduled to return on 09-12-2022. A quick check of employee databases I’ve requested over the years seems to be missing Mr. Woodcock’s name after 2019. Because of this, I’m unable to determine when or if he was terminated a second time.

The second investigation appears to have finally led to substantiated charges on Nov. 8, 2022. Despite repeatedly bringing their concerns to department leaders and investigators, the employees had to endure more than a year of harassment and threats, which these investigations turn a discrimination case into a complaint against one employee, allowing higher-ups who knew about the harms and did nothing, going back to the 2019 lawsuit, to remain unscathed.

“According to Mr. Brumfield, he started working for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) in August 2021. Mr. Brumfield reported that he attempted to file an Employee Discrimination Grievance regarding his concerns with Mr. Woodcock. Mr. Brumfield reported that he was informed that the concerns did not meet criteria to proceed as a discrimination grievance, as the concerns did not fall under a protected class.”

This sounds like another common “pattern or practice” we see of those in power refusing to accept a valid grievance from an employee by gaslighting them or giving them the runaround. It reminds me of a time where a JCPS employee got agitated when central office employees refused to accept a grievance from him. They ended up calling the police on him for some of the comments he made as he left without completing his goal. Police went to the school where he worked and judging from the video he posted on his Facebook account, arrested him at a nearby gas station. The charges were later dropped.

There was a mention in Woodcock’s second investigative report of audio files that were submitted by one of the witnesses, so we requested a copy and shared them here. The report states, “In addition to the reports and audio that were provided by Mr. Brumfield, other coworkers of Mr. Woodcock supported the assertion that Mr. Woodcock has behaved in an inappropriate manner while working. For example, Mr. Kelman, Ms. Brooks, Mr. Jefferey Smith, Mr. Maupin, and Mr. Michael Smith all acknowledged either witnessing or personally experiencing incidents where Mr. Woodcock exhibited “bullying” and intimidating behavior towards his colleagues.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Maupin downplayed and denied these allegations in the first report. The behaviors of Mr. Woodcock did not worsen. Mr. Maupin’s perception of them did once others came forward. Or perhaps it was because the first complaint was filed by a Black woman, so her complaints were not taken seriously by those in charge. This could be an opportunity for training to recognize bullying, discrimination and inappropriate behaviors in the workplace to reduce the frequency of these types of traumas being inflicted on employees and to reduce the potential for lawsuits in the future. 

The second report also states, “Mr. Brumfield reported that the “abuse” that he has been subjected to by Mr. Woodcock has been daily and systematic. Mr. Brumfield reported that he learned very quickly that Mr. Woodcock was someone who constantly made threats and believes that he is “untouchable” because he blackmails his superiors into submission by calling government agencies and inspectors on them . Mr. Brumfield reported that Mr. Woodcock bragged about his connections and the fact that he feels he played a part in getting his previous supervisor fired . Mr. Brumfield reported that during his first day working with Mr. Woodcock, he (Mr. Woodcock) was throwing things around in the work van , cursing , and ranting about how JCPS had “f*cked him over,” referencing his termination that was previously overturned.”

This is another pattern or practice we commonly see, not just in JCPS, but in LMPD and other taxpayer funded entities.

Another employee who appears to think she is “untouchable” is Katie Stokes, who we reported on in our coverage of the Kimberly Johnson vs. JCPS case. The internal investigation process also reflected favoritism regarding who was interviewed, the scope of the interview was narrowed and the conclusions went against the testimonies we heard when we interviewed several witnesses, along with WFPL and KYCIR reporters.

2020-08-14 | Maupin Teachers and Parents Talk to Investigative Reporters