More Brush-Offs and My Response

Start at the bottom and scroll up. We forwarded our concerns to Chris Brady, JCPS Board Member.


Date: Oct. 14, 2016

From: Gay Adelmann

To: Dena, Roberta Vincent, Marco Munoz, Erin KorbyloKarin BennettVenita BenboeKaty Zeitz

Thank you, Dena and Katy.

Yes, I am aware of the differences between Shawnee and Valley and that we still have not gotten out of the bottom 5%. The concern many of us have is how arbitrary it is to have “the bottom 5%” as a goal. No matter how well everyone does — if everyone was a straight A student — there will always be a bottom 5%. THIS alone is worth making a case for. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg:

The bottom 5% is also a moving target, so that criterion is impossible to plan around.  

Competing to get out of the bottom 5% creates an unhealthy competitive environment. In order for Shawnee to rise, someone else must fall. So instead of collaborating with other low-performing schools, they are put in a position where they must root for the other to fail. As a Cohort 1 school, I doubt legislators truly considered the impacts of this when they came up with this particular criterion.

Also, Shawnee would have gotten out of the bottom 5% if we were using “locked percentiles.” Also, the upper end of the spectrum awards schools with Distinguished and Proficient based on locked percentiles. How is it equitable that the bottom end does not? 

Then there is the issue of trackbacks. Shawnee is charged with scores of resides students who never set foot in their building. Yet, they do not get credit for resides students who go to Manual or Male or Central, of which there are probably many. Why not? How is that equitable?

Not to mention, Shawnee has a higher transient population than most, with so we are further penalized by that additional weighting. And we serve a higher needs population than our “proficient” counterparts. Is there any “compensation” or handicapping for taking on challenges that others resist or refuse? Why not?

Have our state legislators taken into account that some schools serve completely different populations than others, yet they are expected to meet the same benchmarks?  And if they’re okay with that, perhaps they have not considered that some schools are given the luxury of controlling their student population while others are not? Perhaps someone should bring to their attention that doing so is not equitable. Who wants to compete in a contest where the rules weighted against you before you even start? We should make a greater effort to level the playing field to compensate for things outside of these schools’ control, either at the district level or state level, AND we should fight to make sure that accountability takes into account things that are not. Are we having these conversations with them?

Back in 2008, when boundary maps were redrawn, Shawnee was the only high school that did not receive an equitable distribution of the population according to the new criteria. Schools were to be assigned student mixes that equated to between 15% and 45% of students from poverty. Shawnee stayed at 85%. Yet poverty is the number one correlating factor when determining test scores. So, if we truly wanted to remove Shawnee from priority status, we would do something to make our student population mix more representative of the overall district. But yet, we resist. Why?

As a result of this status, Shawnee has lost its SBDM decision-making authority, so not only does the school continue to suffer from turnover, lack of consistency in leadership, lack of advocacy and momentum, but stakeholders do not have any ability to control their own destiny in order to get it back. It’s a catch-22. I doubt legislators intended for their “priority status” to create this scenario, as well. 

Legislators intended for priority status to help low-performing schools, but all it’s done for Shawnee recently is hurt us. What is the plan to get out of the bottom 5% if we cannot pick our population and have not made a meaningful effort to recruit to the magnet? It’s an impossible goal if we simply keep doing more of what we’re doing. 

Shawnee is an anomaly. How many people really understand that? With the constant turnover and no one fully knowing the history, I question if anyone has advocated to the degree that it needs to be in order to get these persistently oppressive policies removed. 

I realize this bottom 5% criterion is a state policy. So, my question is, who is working with our legislators to put an end to the bottom 5% metric when they revise their accountability standards under ESSA in this upcoming session? Who is making sure lawmakers understand the complexities of our persistently low-achieving schools so that the opportunities are more equitable for all schools and students, and so no-win scenarios are not created? I had a meeting today with Bevin’s Legislative Director and this topic was not on his radar. Why not? More importantly, how can we help? 

It’s past time to address the systematic oppression and racism that exists in our community. And it needs to start by standing up to our legislators when they make policies that negatively affect our public schools that serve our gap populations. ESPECIALLY now that we have charter legislation looming on the horizon. 

Sorry for the lengthy email. This is why I wanted to schedule a meeting. I look forward to your reply.

Thanks, Gay

On Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 11:19 AM, Dossett, Dena H <> wrote:

Hi all,

I’ve looped in Dr. Zeitz, who is working closely with Ms. Benboe in supporting Shawnee, about this meeting and below our response:

I’ve spoken with Dena regarding the necessity of this meeting.  While we are all in support, and more than vigilant regarding Shawnee’s progress, an appeal on their behalf is not in order.  Valley has met the three basic criterion.  The only need for appeal on their behalf is the interpretation of graduation rate…is it the entrance year expectations, or the exit year.  In Shawnee’s case, they have not met the three basic criterion as they are not out of the bottom 5%.  The district has worked diligently with the school to look at data clean-up and other related data that could implicate their standing.  We’ve also talked with our state partners regarding Shawnee, its status and next steps for continued improvement.  I appreciate Shawnee stakeholders’ support.  We, as a district team, will continue to monitor and support Shawnee AND scrutinize every opportunity to maximize their performance.  

I have not been included on the scheduling emails, so please feel free to forward. 

From: Roberta Vincent
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2016 7:49 PM
To: Gay Adelmann <>
Cc: Munoz, Marco A <>; Dossett, Dena H <>; Erin Korbylo; Karin Bennett < >; Benboe, Venita M <>
Subject: Re: Priority Status Concerns

Good Evening All-

Has a date been sent for this meeting yet? I would like to attend if at all possible.

Roberta Vincent

On Oct 5, 2016, at 12:21 AM, Gay Adelmann <> wrote:

See if we can find a mutually agreeable time here:

Or if you have additional suggestions, let me know and I can add them.

Thanks, Gay

On Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 3:54 PM, Munoz, Marco A <> wrote:

I can meet on Monday, Oct. 10th, but unfortunately I am already scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 6th and for Tuesday, Oct. 11th.

Dr. Marco Muñoz

Priority Schools Director

Jefferson County Public Schools

From: Dossett, Dena H
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2016 2:20 PM
To: Gay Adelmann <>
Cc: Erin Korbylo; Karin Bennett <>; Roberta Vincent <>; Benboe, Venita M <>; Munoz, Marco A <>
Subject: RE: Priority Status Concerns

I’m available this Thursday from 1-3, or Oct 10 or 11 at 2:30 on.

From: Gay Adelmann []
Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2016 1:32 PM
To: Dossett, Dena H <>
Cc: Erin Korbylo; Karin Bennett <>; Roberta Vincent <>; Benboe, Venita M <>; Munoz, Marco A <>
Subject: Re: Priority Status Concerns

I saw Ms. Benboe today and she requested we also invite Dr. Munoz to the meeting. Please let us know what times you are able to arrange.

I have this Thursday and Friday as well as Oct. 10 thru Oct 12 wide open, if that helps.

Thanks, Gay

On Mon, Oct 3, 2016 at 4:21 PM, Gay Adelmann <> wrote:

That would be great. I think Erin and I both have some ideas/suggestions about some other considerations that we’d like to brainstorm further. Please let us know a time that would be convenient for all.

Thanks, Gay

On Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 9:02 PM, Dossett, Dena H <> wrote:

Hi Gay,

If principal Benboe would like to meet, I’m happy to meet to discuss whether we want to pursue an appeal for Shawnee and possible next steps.  We may need to think about other considerations for an argument given that Shawnee is still in the bottom 5% (which is different from Valley’s situation).



Note: The above series of emails were in response to a request for a meeting to discuss challenging the impossible to exit “priority status” bestowed upon low performing schools like Shawnee. We were blown off in the end.