At a recent JCPS School Board meeting, board members met during a “work session” to discuss the district’s strategic plan going forward, as they do from time to time. Work sessions must comply with open meetings laws, and prior to the pandemic have always been open to the public. Speakers have never been permitted at these meetings. Since the onset of the pandemic, those meetings have been conducted via Zoom and broadcast on the district’s YouTube channel. Only this week did the district reopen their meetings in Van Hoose to normal capacity. However, speakers are still not permitted at work sessions. Never have been.
But that didn’t stop a mob of angry white people from storming the meeting and demanding to be heard. Below is the district’s recording of Tuesday night’s events from their YouTube channel. The video is queued up to the moment JCPS Board member Corrie Shull is thanking the district’s equity team for their work and continued commitment to racial equity and inclusivity, only to be interrupted by outbursts from the infiltrators shouting “All kids matter!” After four warnings, Board Chair Diane Porter calls for a 5-minute recess. Watch here:
During the recess, cell phone and news coverage caught more of the interactions, which involved several known right-wing radicals who have no children in JCPS, as well as representatives from a known hate group, the 3 percenters.
Upon being informed the meeting was not open for public comment, one woman, identified as Cindy Marlow, was heard saying, “You’re doing what communists do. You’re asking us to leave because they don’t want to hear…”
Members of Dear JCPS and other organizations have been regular speakers, committee meeting participants, and critical friends to the district, building rapport, learning the ins and outs and working to find solutions that benefit students, taxpayers, employees and community members alike. During such a critical moment in our city’s and district’s history, we have been asking district officials to reopen opportunities for public comment during regular board meetings for over a year. As such, many concerned stakeholders have been forced to utilize other channels in order to continue to advocate for the causes they are passionate about. That’s why it was incredibly offensive to witness the behaviors of individuals who appear to have made it their priority to not only violate the processes the rest of us have reluctantly and patiently followed for years, but proceeded to shove their misinformed and bigoted agenda to the forefront, stepping on the work and voices of those in the community that have actually been working to be part of the solution. Their demands demonstrate a privileged response to a perceived threat, while many of us have been working much longer on more complex, intertwined ACTUAL problems impacting our most vulnerable and marginalized communities, and waiting our turns for opportunities to be heard.
Here are the people involved in the disruption that our followers have identified so far:
Ruth Ann Shumate-Reed and Cindy Marlow
Both are also seen together in this picture from a pro-life rally in Frankfort earlier this year. Ruth Ann also led actions tied to protecting the police officer who was seen in uniform praying outside the abortion clinic. The point of sharing these other actions is not to take a stand one way or the other on the conflated issue of abortion and freedom of expression, but to point out their affiliations with radical right wing groups that politicize non-issues to activate their base utilizing fear tactics.
Seen in the back row of the meeting, Frank is holding a sign, standing, and visibly agitated. He’s a local doctor who has a long, storied history of bigotry. Below are a couple of examples. He also spoke incoherently into the mic at the June 28 Oldham County school board meeting, although all he really did was yell, “Lies” and “Communism.”
If you have additional information on groups or individuals behind the disruptions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.