Dear JCPS Superintendent Pollio, Board Chair Porter and Board of Education Members:
During this critical moment in the movement for Black lives, not only across our nation but right here in JCPS, it is unacceptable that JCPS Board Meetings continue via Zoom, without an adequate forum for stakeholders to express our concerns publicly.
Since March, the only way for the public to participate in these meetings has been to send written remarks to the board secretary, who then forwards them to board members and records them in the minutes. At a time when our district is taking great strides to ensure technology is distributed equitably so that even our community’s most impacted families have access, why not encourage this same technology to be utilized for participation in public discourse, as well?
On August 6, leaders from four of the undersigned Black-allied, anti-racist organizations sent an “urgent” email to Dr. Pollio, reminding him that Black and West Louisville families represent a very powerful and important voting bloc in Jefferson County. We warned of grave concerns we were hearing from the community about moving forward with the student assignment plan as proposed, without obtaining buy-in from the impacted community for the tax increase necessary to fund these changes. Instead, grassroots organizations and community members continue to be ignored, shut out, manipulated and misled. Efforts to elevate solutions to these concerns have been met with resistance, barriers or flat out ignored.
On August 11, ahead of the August 18 board meeting, all three co-chairs of the Kentucky Alliance emailed a plea to the Board, noting that stakeholders “can only submit written statements” which “are not read out loud at the meeting.” They further requested the public “be allowed to participate by zoom, phone, or by submitting video or audio statements that will be presented during the meeting.”
For nearly six months, Coalition leaders have been trying to warn JCPS decision-makers of the increasing number of grassroots organizations that feel Louisville’s Black and West End voters have zero appetite for a tax increase at this time. We fear district efforts to further advance this agenda without demonstrating a good-faith effort to earn the vote of Black voters and their allies, is likely to backfire, resulting in a failure of this ballot measure.
If you could hear us, we would want you to know that the People’s Agenda is a living document that focuses on nine important social-justice issues, including Education and Youth Empowerment. If we could speak, we would let you know about the Coalition’s reasonable demands around student assignment and other structural and systemic inequities, so the Board could address them by the next board meeting on September 29, ahead of the November 3 vote.
We, the undersigned, object to yet another board meeting taking place with lack of access, especially at a time when the district must make EVERY EFFORT to ensure impacted stakeholders are part of the decision-making process and their representatives have an ONGOING seat at the table!
On behalf of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda,
Tyra Walker, Shameka Parrish-Wright, Dre Dawson, Co-chairs, The Kentucky Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
Latasha Harrison, Founder, Louisville PTO
De’Nita Wright, Coalition of West Louisville Neighborhood Associations
Michelle Pennix, Retired JCPS Principal, PrincipledPennix
Dennisha Rivers, Founder of Vision of Life Outreach Ministries
Gay Adelmann, Co-founder, Dear JCPS, Co-founder Save Our Schools Kentucky
Leigh Ann Yost, Leigh Ann The Advocate
Gin Spaulding, JCPS parent, retired JCPS teacher
Ivonne Rovira, JCPS teacher, co-founder JCPS Leads, co-founder Kentucky Educators United
Greg Tichenor, JCPS teacher
and countless other marginalized voices yet to be heard