The Arrest of Michael McGowan

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2014 by Joan Graves

It is with utmost disgust I must bring to you the news that board of education member Michael McGowan has been arrested. I am absolutely livid. Before I get to the gory details there are a few things to note.

Once again the Winchester Sun has shown itself to be more like The National Enquirer than an Associated Press newspaper. While salivating all over this story they are still incapable of locating a court document that clearly states Patti and Paul Columbia also prevailed in the bogus lawsuit filed by shamed former Superintendent Elaine Farris. In addition, the Winchester Sun refused to run the story of Elaine’s niece (Tiffany Davis) being charged with criminal harassment of Patti Columbia. Their reasoning was because Tiffany lived in Lexington, even though the charges were filed in Clark County. Now, if the Sun actually adhered to that guideline half the paper would be gone because it consists more of news outside Clark County than it does local events.

Also vying for the most biased news outlet is WKYT. When Elaine Farris filed her lawsuit against me WKYT was running the story despite the fact I had yet to be served a single paper. Until, I’m served the papers are not officially filed. So, how would WKYT know about it? Yep, you guessed it. Elaine Farris strikes again. To prove the point notice the absence of WKYT reporting the lawsuit was resolved. How many times have you heard them follow up on a lawsuit story? It’s called ethical reporting but like the Sun WKYT opts to pick and choose their ethics. Which is why they are running the story on Michael McGowan but refused to report on the charges against Tiffany Davis even though she works at the Fayette County board of education.

What no one is reporting is that Michael McGowan attempted to get a domestic violence order first. Judge Nora Shepherd declined it. Judge Shepherd also removed the kids from Michael and gave them to his ex-wife Jackie, despite the fact that Jackie had willingly signed over custody.   Once Jackie got custody she followed through on her threat to get a domestic violence order against Michael, allegedly even violating the order herself.  Michael was desperate to see the kids Jackie had manipulated away from him which led to the violation of the order.

However, just because you have good reason to break the law doesn’t mean you should. Michael should have respected that domestic violence order whether it’s bogus or not. What in the world Michael McGowan was thinking is beyond me. I get wanting to see your kids. I get not having money to hire an attorney. I get, believe me I REALLY get, being victimized by a vindictive person, a screwed up “justice” system and a judge with more power than common sense. But I absolutely do not get violating the order. It’s simply incomprehensible, inexcusable and beyond ridiculous.

At this point Michael is still considered innocent. He also maintains his innocence. But considering the evidence supposedly consists of some text messages it won’t be hard to determine who is right and wrong.  If he is found guilty he must be removed from the board.  I had a hand in putting him on that board and I have no problem having a hand in getting him removed from it.

It cannot be denied that Michael was instrumental in moving our school system forward over the last two years. Our schools are in a much better place and Michael has been a part of that. For that I thank him for his service. But it is still not enough to excuse breaking the law. So, if found guilty in a court of law, he must go. Now, the question is who is going to have courage enough to stand up for these kids and keep our schools moving forward rather than returning them to the mess they were two years ago?

Proficient & Ready To Work

Posted in Board of Education (General), Herald-Leader, In The News, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , on November 5, 2014 by Joan Graves

grad_class_2014It has been an extremely difficult two years for our school administration. The redistricting alone would have put an extraordinary strain on average school systems. Add to that the mess created by having Elaine Farris as our superintendent and it’s a recipe for disaster. Yet, that’s not what happened at all.

By now, you’ve seen the numbers and know that Clark County Schools are proficient. George Rogers Clark is no longer a focus school. Superintendent Paul Christy accomplished in only two years what Elaine Farris never could in nearly four years. AND….he did it while redistricting, rebuilding and revitalizing. He managed to get better test scores even while testing more students.

There has been a lot of focus placed on college and career ready students. Several years ago, the previous administration even adopted the motto of having every student college or career ready. Yet, they never could hit the mark. In 2012, 167 students were college ready. A 166 were in 2013. But in 2014 the number swelled to 186! Even more staggering was the jump in career ready students. From 2013 (a year attributed to Elaine Farris in the testing world) to 2014 the number of career ready students more than doubled. That is a tremendous accomplishment considering in past years the number of career ready students has increased/decreased by only one or two points.

Several things can impact these numbers, not the least of which is the overall morale of employees and students. It is impossible to ignore what a huge increase came with the change of superintendent and board members. Leadership will clearly make or break a system. This county has undergone changes most schools systems would find unimaginable and could cause a significant setback to students and staff. But Clark County weathered the storm and came out stronger than ever.

Our students are reaping the rewards of a united community and school system with improved leadership. Students who are career ready, leave school, enter the workforce and improve our community. Students who are college ready, go on to higher education, return and improve our community. We are at last in a situation where we all win. Stand Up Clark County and applaud the superintendent, board of education, employees and students of Clark County Schools.

Campbell Jr. High Bullying Video

Posted in Bullying, Campbell Jr. High, Dustin Howard, Michael Kuduk, Mike Menchen, School Buses, Schools with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2014 by Joan Graves

bullyingRecently, a video was posted on Facebook showing a brief altercation between two students at Campbell Jr. High School. The video was taken and posted by a student who was tired of seeing a fellow student bullied. The video shows a girl, Trinity, standing next to an unnamed male student. In the background students can be heard encouraging the students to fight. As the frenzy grows Trinity suddenly grabs the boy in a headlock and drags him off.

There are multiple problems in this situation. The trigger point for parents was the lack of Campbell staff. Superintendent Paul Christy stated it was “a small area” in front of a large school. He also stated that a minimum of 10 teachers and 2 administrators are always present during dismissal, when this video was shot. Even with the noise of dismissal I can’t imagine how that many employees could miss the sounds of a brewing fight.

According to Trinity’s mother, April, Trinity is special needs. However, she states the school has labeled Trinity a behavior problem. Trinity does not have an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in place, that all special needs students have.  Because Trinity’s disabilities don’t create a learning deficit, an IEP wasn’t needed. However, based on information provided to me, a 504 would have been appropriate.

A 504 refers to Section 504 of the 1973 Federal Rehabilitation Act. It essentially states that no one with any type of disability may be discriminated against. A 504 in place would have meant the school recognized Trinity as being special needs and certain protections, such as an escort to the bus each day, could have been secured. It is extremely interesting or highly questionable, depending on how you look at it, that Trinity did not have a 504 in place at the time of this incident.

Citing privacy issues Christy couldn’t specifically comment on this issue. He did explain steps he has taken to help curb this type of behavior in the future. High school students will no longer be allowed to exit the bus at Campbell. Buses will be assigned specific parking spaces so they are in the same spot each day, keeping students from wondering through the crowd. The most effective prevention however, has been in place for a year.

Affixed inside the front of every bus are two phone numbers. One to the Clark County Sheriff’s office (745-0290) and the other to Winchester Police (355-7443). A student or parent may call either and provide bullying information anonymously. According, to Christy this is the 2nd year the numbers have been available with only a single phone call going into them. With all the bullying allegations why is no one calling?  I hear repeatedly how the schools don’t do enough to stop bullying. This is your way to bypass them and go directly to law enforcement. Parents instruct your child to report bullying to the school first. But if he/she isn’t comfortable with that, or the school doesn’t respond then call one of the numbers listed above and get it stopped.

Here is where the story takes a turn. Prior to the altercation, April had been informed that the district was filing legal papers to have Trinity removed from Campbell citing she was out of control. The posting of the fight video changed everything. When I met with Christy he was clearly angry over the video being shared online. He had contacted Facebook to have the video removed but Facebook declined, saying it didn’t violate their terms of use. According, to Christy he wanted the video removed because “innocent students” were caught in the middle. I saw and shared the video because students circling around and encouraging others to fight are not innocent. Furthermore, you would be hard pressed to identify anyone by the video alone.

The video was allegedly used as a bargaining chip in a meeting between April, Christy, Campbell Principal Dustin Howard and Assistant Principal Mike Menchen. According to April school officials agreed to remove legal filings forcing Trinity from Campbell Jr. High into the Phoenix Academy, if April would remove the fight video from YouTube. April agreed.

The student alleges that she was “forced” by Christy to remove the video from her Facebook page. By doing so it would remove it from everyone’s page who shared it. The moment I received word of this I sent a text to Christy asking him about it because quite frankly, I didn’t believe it. But when he failed to respond I knew chances were high he did. Why else would he not respond?

I then contacted Board of Education Chair, Dr. Michael Kuduk, who, unlike Christy, will respond to inquiries even if he doesn’t like them. Kuduk was in agreement with Christy that the video should not have been online. However, Kuduk stated that Christy had no authority to “force” this student or any other to remove something from his/her personal Facebook page.

It is a shame that Paul Christy resorted to such excessive lengths to have the video removed. This could have been a post about the positive changes he made regarding bulling but instead we are left to wonder why Christy would invest so much time and energy into trying to get rid of a video everyone has already seen? It begs the question, what is he getting rid of that we haven’t seen? Let us hope, nothing. Because the First Amendment of the US Constitution is nothing to be trifled with.

In the future, Superintendent Christy, allow me to save you some time. I always download, save and back-up any video that comes into Stand Up Clark County. So, if I’ve seen it, all your efforts in the world won’t make it go away

Stand Up Clark County for free speech and downloaded videos.

All That Glitters Isn’t Golden – Final Lawsuit Resolution

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2014 by Joan Graves

It has been nearly three years since Paul and Patti Columbia and I were sued by former school superintendent, Elaine Farris. It has been three years filled with laughter, tears and an overwhelming amount of disillusionment with the justice system. Our attorney accurately labeled the fiasco when he called it a spite suit. Filing a lawsuit was a last ditch effort at shutting us up and it worked….for a while.

When the community realized all they did not know about the inner workings of the board of education they responded with disgust at the voting booth. They ousted every board member, including long-time incumbent, Debbie Fatkin, who was up for re-election. Two of the three people endorsed by Stand Up Clark County won seats on the board. At last, a new era finally was born, as opposed to being something just stamped on a hat. But that was the crux of the problem. The former administration lacked the ability to understand that strategically placing pretty, pacifist words in key locations never convinced the community they were true. Through actions and in their own legally obtained emails, the former administration presented themselves as people who thought too highly of their own opinions and not enough of the community’s. In essence, they were the makers of their own demise.

While leadership had changed hands it was only a battle won. A war was still very much underway for the Columbias and me and years of our lives were being stolen. Despite being the one to initiate the lawsuit, Elaine and her attorney, Dale Golden, seemed less invested in winning than in dragging the case out. From our perspective, Golden’s single-minded purpose was to see how long he could keep us from actually obtaining a court date. So, rather than allow the case to proceed naturally before a jury Golden employed every delay tactic at his disposal.

I lost track of the number of times we showed up in court only to discover the case had been put off. Or we would be notified that a delay tactic had been initiated only hours before we were to appear in court. All the while your tax dollars were paying for these incessant delays, and Elaine never to show up.

The final stall defense came when Golden, knowing a court date was imminent, called the judge asking for yet another delay. His desperation was evident when his reason was because he thought the trial was in Madison County. Considering the case was filed in Clark County and to my knowledge no one even mentioned Madison County, much less actually gone there, he had no reason to be of that frame of mind. Conveniently enough, when the judge refused, someone from his office, stood up in the courtroom to make her appearance known. Golden may have thought he was very cleaver but his ruse didn’t work. A court date was set and within hours of receiving a March trial date, Golden contacted our attorney to dismiss the case.

All of the accusations made against us, all of the time invested and all the tax dollars spent have all been for naught. The Supreme Court intentionally made it difficult for the wealthy, powerful or public figures to be able to sue the “little man” for slander, liable and the like. Farris held a public office paid with tax payer dollars. Those dollars have the right to be represented, challenged and accounted for. To us, it is a huge travesty of justice to allow someone sue the very people they are supposed to defend and waste the tax dollars they were entrusted to manage. It’s behavior that screams poorly orchestrated leadership and narcissistic behavior, at best.

Regardless, of what it has been, the point is what it is now – and that is over. With the dropping of the lawsuit so goes the facade of victimhood. For the only thing Elaine Farris was ever victim of was herself. That is just extremely sad. Yet, today is not a time to mourn but to celebrate. The vice that has strangled this community’s educational system has been released. Stand Up Clark County has fulfilled our promise to this great community. We have ensured that the public is at last back in public education and proven all that glitters is not Golden.

Kudos To Kuduk For His Handling Of Tonight’s BOE Controversy

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Point of View with tags , , , , , on February 5, 2013 by Joan Graves

When Dr. Michael Kuduk became the board chair he made it clear that a major priority will be improving the district and community relationship. He certainly demonstrated his commitment tonight. Even though tonight’s board meeting meets Kentucky Open Meeting regulations that was not enough for Dr. Kuduk. He has higher expectations. He does not want a board willing to meet the bare minimum of the law. Instead, he seeks a board that embodies the “spirit of the law“. That spirit is how the board carries out KRS statute 61.805 which states that the public must have ample notice regarding any meeting that will be discussing public business. Dr. Kuduk made clear  someone had failed to put the public’s best interest first and he was not happy about it.

To remedy the situation, Dr. Kuduk announced the board wouldn’t be taking action on any agenda items tonight. Instead, the public would be made aware of what was going to be discussed so they may attend the next meeting if they desire. He went on to say the board would continue with presentations from superintendent search organizations in attendance but there be no board vote on it until the public had an opportunity to comment.  What is likely not a surprise to anyone,  Judy Hicks objected.

Judy determined that because one of the agenda items was the acceptance of Superintendent Elaine Farris’s  resignation they shouldn’t hear any presentations until the resignation had been formally accepted by the board.  Judy seems to be laboring under the misconception that Elaine’s resignation is questionable. Dr. Kuduk pointed out that Elaine publicly announced her resignation to the board at the last meeting and it has been posted on the  district’s website.  He concluded that it would be a tremendous waste of time for the organizations prepared to pitch their services to now be denied because someone on our part dropped the ball.

In her typical passive-aggressive style, Judy continued to verbally spar with Dr. Kuduk, who was having none of her nonsense. Then in a shocking move, Judy attempted to undermine Dr. Kuduk by soliciting the opinion of board attorney Henry Rosenthal. Rosenthal agreed with Dr. Kuduk, stating it was common knowledge Elaine resigned and the vote to accept her resignation was formality because Elaine couldn’t be forced to work at a job she quit.  Discussion over.

The importance of the exchange between Dr. Kuduk and Judy Hicks cannot be ignored. Judy claimed only to be asking a question to get clarification. Yet, there was no confusion. It had been established that Dr. Kuduk was acting in accordance with the law and that Elaine had made her resignation public.  Despite these glaring facts Judy continued to press the issue.

Dr. Kuduk is the chairman of the board which technically makes him Judy’s boss. In what other job would an employee be allowed to continue protesting the instructions of her boss and not be insubordinate? Insubordination is grounds for automatic dismissal in the working world. While Judy’s behavior is up for interpretation, it certainly raises some questions. Is she having trouble relinquishing control of the board to Dr. Kuduk? Was she challenging Dr. Kuduk because she personally resents him? Is there a deeper, more sinister motive of which we are not privy?

It’s important to keep these questions in mind. If Judy is on a personal mission it is the responsibility of the board and the community to seek her removal from the board. It is also our responsibility to give Judy an opportunity to demonstrate that she is willing to work with the new board for the betterment of Clark County students. At this stage we can’t determine for certain what is taking place so we should carefully observe her behaviors and attitudes in the future.

In the mud of all the legalities, petty differences and personal agendas one thing is absolute. A new era has arrived in Clark County. Change is marching in and taking no prisoners. Dr. Michael Kuduk is taking the board of education in a new direction. People are talking about how, under his leadership, the board is more focused on priorities. As more energy, enthusiasm and zeal tear through the board the public celebrates its readmission into education.

Stand Up Clark County and give kudos to Kuduk.

Weather Decisions Can Mean Life Or Death For Students

Posted in Board of Education (General), Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Joan Graves

I am a trained weather spotter and always monitor the sky anytime there is a threat of severe weather.  I report to the National Weather Service in Louisville about conditions as they unfold and they pass the information to the general public.

During the spring tornadoes can be seen in early morning hours but a tornado in January is concealed because the sun isn’t up. Add to that, a rain wrapped and we have the makings for potential disaster. That was the case this morning.

When my ears began popping I knew the pressure had changed and the possibility of a tornado was high. I opened my front door I saw the rain that was falling nearly horizontal at that point, start twisting and swirling into a perfect funnel form. I immediatel beat on my neighbors door to warn them but despite knowing what danger to look for,  I still had seen it. People tend to look and see only rain not considering there is danger hiding on the other side of that rain. In more ways than one, we all should be acutely aware that just because we don’t see a threat doesn’t mean its not there.

Apparently, this illusion of safety extended to our school leadership. But that illusion is not an excuse because we’ve known the storm was coming for days. It even made national news. We also knew that the path of the storm was headed straight for us and would hit at the exact time small kids on wet, dangerous county roads would be boarding busses. It was a fast moving storm and an hour delay would’ve been sufficient. Decisions made by school leaders can save or risk lives and sometimes it’s up others to determine if they will obey the decision or not.

On May 18, 1995 my nephews were waiting to exit a bus at Jessamine County High School when the principal made the decision to have drivers hold students on the buses rather than open their doors at the bell. A storm had been brewing since the middle of morning pick up and the principal could tell a different plan was needed for the 600 students in the parking lot. The storm created millions of dollars in damage to the school district. But because a principal made a decision no students were walking the halls of the school when the wall collapsed. Had those students been in the school rather than on the buses there would have been more than 26 injured and would’ve likely resulted in fatalities. Those kids now have an exciting tale to relay to their own kids thanks to the decision of one man.

As parents it is first our responsibility to make choices about our kids attending school. No parent should ever put a child on a bus if they have questions or misgivings about safety. But the district equally shares that responsibility, especially for students whose parents aren’t home when they get on the bus.

At 5 a.m. we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the fast moving storm was barreling down on us at the same time elementary students would be boarding buses. There was no guess work here. Over the last few years Clark County has developed a chronic lack of weather safety and parents are furious. Parents feel children are being put at risk by district decisions.

Making today’s circumstances worse are rumors that Superintendent Elaine Farris didn’t show up at work today. Many are wondering if that’s because she didn’t want to come out in the weather or if she is hiding, unwilling to take responsibility for the choice to not delay school. I have no idea where Elaine Farris is. But wherever she is, I hope she’s getting an apology and a better weather plan together.

Stand Up Clark County and refuse to accept decisions that shift in the wind.

 

School Superintendent Files Lawsuit Over FB Posts – Sound Familiar?

Posted in Elaine Farris, In The News, Lawsuit, National Stories with tags , , , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

It seems we are not alone. This article is eerily similar to our current situation.  What I found most interesting was that this superintendent was also very vague in the complaint. I am amazed that our court system allows lawsuits to even be filed without identifying specific details about what the crime is supposed to be. No wonder how court systems are backed up.

School Superintendent Files Lawsuit Over Facebook Posts – NewsOn6.com – Tulsa, OK – News, Weather, Video and Sports – KOTV.com |.

New Beginnings – The First 2013 Board Of Education Meeting

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Dr. Michael Kuduk, Judy Hicks, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2013 by Joan Graves

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Tonight was the first meeting of our newly elected board of education. For anyone not in attendance you missed the excellence of a board united in improving the educational climate we have adapted ourselves to. Should you happen to run into board members within the community be sure to take a moment and stop to thank them for taking on the enormous responsibility of improving the education of our students.

The new board elected their governing body this evening. Previously, Judy Hicks served as chairperson with Debbie Fatkin as vice-chair. For 2013, it will be Dr. Michael Kuduk directing the board by serving as Chairperson. Michael McGowan was elected to serve as vice-chair.

Dr. Kuduk wasted no time getting down to business. One of the first changes he wants to initiate is changing board meetings from once a month to twice a month. When Judy Hicks indicated two Tuesday’s a month would be too much for her work schedule, Ashley Ritchie wisely asked if board meetings had to occur on Tuesdays. They do not, which opened up enormous opportunities for setting days convenient to all. There are still details to hammer out but at this point it appears as though board meetings will be conducted one Tuesday and Thursday of each month.

By increasing the frequency of meetings it provides the board extended time to review and finalize the agenda, as well as provide the community additional time to come before the board with comments and concerns. Board meetings have a history of being extensively long. In June, a board meeting wasn’t adjourned until two in the morning. Many working parents find the extensive length of board meetings a deterrent for their attendance. They simply don’t have the time to work, care for the family and attend a 3-4 hour board meeting. Dr. Kuduk’s proposal will decrease the time commitment for parents, board members and faculty. If you are unable to make a meeting you won’t have to wait an entire month before getting the assistance you need. Tonight’s meeting was for organizational purposes so the regular board meeting will take next week as usual.

During the years I have been attending board meetings it has always been easy to determine who the new board members were. They are often timid and unsure of themselves. That was certainly not the case tonight. Our newly elected officials had no hesitation making motions, seconding them, asking questions or offering recommendations.

Another significant change was inclusion. Several times Dr. Kuduk looked to those in attendance to include them in decisions. He specifically looked to them as the second date for a board meeting was discussed. Involving the community and employees in decision making was highly promoted by Stand Up Clark County so we are well pleased to see the board turning in this direction.

After a tumultuous year, hope, peace and unity reined this evening. This is a board willing to put the needs of the students above their personal ones. This board firmly established that they have done their homework and are well-versed in proper procedure and knowledge of how a successful board conducts themselves.

This is only the very first meeting on the very first day of our educational restoration. It is a new year filled with the promises of what is truly a new beginning. So, Stand Up Clark County because without a doubt, you made it happen.

 

Trapp Elementary Gets Blue Ribbon & Demonstrates CCPS Potential

Posted in Encouragement, Herald-Leader, In The News, National Stories, School Board Election 2012, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , on October 15, 2012 by Joan Graves
The logo for the Natonal Blue Ribbon Schools p...

The logo for the Natonal Blue Ribbon Schools program, awarded to JP2 in 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This evening parents and citizens are meeting to discuss the district’s plan to merge Conkwright and Clark Middle Schools. An overwhelming number of community members are against the proposal with very good reason. The Clark County Board of Education also seeks to close Trapp and other Elementary Schools for the same purpose. Yet, it is the smaller elementary schools that are the highest achieving in the district, state and nation.

Trapp Elementary leaders are currently preparing for a trip to Washington D.C. to collect a high honor. The U.S. Department of Education announced in September that Trapp Elementary will receive the coveted Blue Ribbon Award. Private schools are often touted as top schools and are considered in the running for the Blue Ribbon Award. Despite the competition it was a little public school in Winchester, KY that caught the eye of  U.S Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“Our nation has no greater responsibility than helping all children realize their full potential,” Duncan said. “Schools honored with the National Blue Ribbon Schools award are committed to accelerating student achievement and preparing students for success in college and careers. Their work reflects the conviction that every child has promise and that education is the surest pathway to a strong, secure future.”

In a time of educational turmoil our little schools are getting the job done. Time and again they rise to the challenge and meet the goals that our board and superintendent say can not be met. Every teacher, worker, administrator and student at Trapp deserves recognition. On behalf of the community we say thank you Trapp for breaking the mold and demonstrating the capabilities of our students and teachers. We are so pleased to be a part of the community you have chosen to serve and improve.

Stand Up Clark County for Trapp Elementary!

Clark County Students & Teachers Deserve The Improvements These Candidates Will Bring

Posted in Board of Education (General), In The News, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , on October 8, 2012 by Joan Graves

 

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A school board run like a successful business. A board of education whose priority is a better education for all. School board members interacting with the community. Board meetings where the community is welcomed and encouraged to speak out. An educational system that gets better every year. A public school system that is held as a model for all others who wish to improve.

Do these things seem impossible to you? They shouldn’t. We can achieve these things with the right people on the board. Our current school board is nowhere near what it should be – what it has been. But as great as we’ve been in the past we can be better. We are the community. We are the parents. We are Clark County and we are standing up for more.

If you don’t know your district that’s okay. On election day just go to the polls and push the button for the candidate in the number 1 slot on the ballot. Stand Up Clark County intends to make Clark County Public Schools number 1. It starts with voting for the candidate in that slot.

 

Students Outperform Board Of Education & Superintendent

Posted in Board Meetings, Point of View with tags , , , , , on June 27, 2012 by Joan Graves

After her evaluation Elaine Farris had this to say. “We all have room for improvement. I’m anxious to see what it is you want me to continue to work on because I promise you that whatever it is  you think I need to work on, I will.” Finally, a superintendent I can get on board with…… IF she was actually speaking to the community. Though she wasn’t clear with her words her body language indicated she was speaking to the board. But, I could get on board with that too……….IF the board actually represented the thoughts of the community they are supposed to be serving.

Each board member represents a different area of the county. Board members must live in the district they represent so they can experience the same circumstances and understand the things that make each district different. Each board member is supposed to take the concerns of the citizens in their district to the other board members and the superintendent. The superintendent uses her education and experiences to hammer out a plan. The plan should have measurable goals, a stated result and a time frame for completion. If at any time a district doesn’t feel represented they vote out their board member. That’s how it is suppose to work. That’s not what is happening in Clark County.

Clark County has board members that ridicule, insult, are combative and just plain mean to the community. They’ve been in office so long they feel they no longer need input from us because they are far more superior. While they may rule over us the person who should be accountable to them, the superintendent, is not. As emails have demonstrated our superintendent is setting her own goals and telling the board how to evaluate her.

I agree that we all can improve, so how is Elaine going to improve? She’s fully aware that both staff and community are grossly unhappy. What will she do about it? She says she will do whatever the board wants so why have they not told her or us?

Elaine Farris  created 6 goals for herself to do in 4 years. Yet, there is no plan of how she will accomplish them. There’s no mark of progress. Without a plan and evidence of what is working and what isn’t her goals are just ink spots on paper. There is no evidence that a single goal has been accomplished. When the superintendent is evaluated and hasn’t met her goals it is the responsibility of the board to set a corrective action plan. That did not happen. Why?

An annual review on a job is generally conducted the same way. The employee meets with her boss and hears what she is doing right and  wrong. If the employee is meeting expectations then she’s given a raise. If her work is less than desirable the raise is withheld and a plan is made to help her be successful. If we all have room for improvement why did our superintendent emerge from her evaluation with absolutely no plan or change in goals? In fact, Judy Hicks, much to the pain of those listening, explained in detail why Elaine was marked on anything less than perfection. The board and superintendent say words that are in direct conflict with their actions. They can say they’re taking responsibility from now until the end of time but until they actually act  responsible it means nothing.

The same people who have no corrective action plan for the superintendent are the same ones that determine the goals for our students. Why are they holding our kids to higher standards than they do the superintendent? If our leaders are incapable of doing what they expect the students to do; we’ve got major problems.

Students must earn the right to drive and take part in extracurricular activities. The board thinks it is their right to bypass the same standards.  What would happen if students took the board’s approach and refused to speak to the teacher in class? Or what if a teacher sat at her desk and refused to answer the questions of the students? The board would demand an immediate change of action. Our students must engage in dialogue and problem solving with their teachers if they are going to be successful. Why does the board of education think they are exempt to the guidelines they created? Stand Up Clark County and hold the board to the same standards they place on our kids.

 

Misinformation Regarding New GRC Football Coach

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by Joan Graves

George Rogers Clark Principal, David Bolen and a hiring committee he selected, recently named Mike Riddle as head football coach. On June 3, the Winchester Sun ran the story about the hiring stating Riddle lettered for four season (1995-1998) at the University of Kentucky. According to the University of Kentucky that is not true. A listing of UK Lettermen lists Riddle as lettering in only 1998. A phone call to the University of Kentucky confirmed the information.

This is not believed to be an error of reporting on the part of the Winchester Sun. The information can be found in Riddle’s bio. It is the same bio information reported when Riddle was hired at Georgia State. Most notable about that position is that Riddle was hired by his former UK Coach Bill Curry. Considering Curry coached at UK 1990-1996 he would have been well aware that reports of Riddle lettering four years were incorrect. Curry’s role in the incorrect information being widely reported in Georgia is unknown.

What is known, is that as principal David Bolen has the final call in hiring. It is his responsibility to verify all information regarding prospective employees. It took less than 30 minutes from the time the information was reported to Stand Up Clark County until it was verified. This event raises questions regarding the hiring and firing practices at GRC.

Superintendent Paul Christy has been notified of the discrepancy. It is now up to him as to how he will handle Bolen and Riddle. One thing is certain. Christy absolutely cannot ignore this. This community, our schools and our players deserve transparency from our school administrators. We demand thorough background checks, biography confirmations and every reference checked for every potential school employee, every single time. We will not be deceived. 

Stand Up Clark County and demand immediate action in this matter.

 

Resources

http://www.georgiastatesports.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=12700&ATCLID=1515564

http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/hou/sports/m-footbl/auto_pdf/2011-12/misc_non_event/week_gastate.pdf

http://www.centralkynews.com/winchestersun/sports/high_school/grc/riddle-hired-as-new-football-coach-at-george-rogers-clark/article_df198819-5262-5fc7-82c9-f1574b8cf84e.html?mode=print

http://billcurry.net/biography

Special Olympics & An Even More Special Football Coach

Posted in Uncategorized on June 6, 2014 by Joan Graves

Joan Graves:

Stand Up Clark County & demand that ALL teachers, administrators & coaches reach & maintain this level of excellence, integrity & transparency.

Originally posted on P3 - Parenting To The 3rd Power:

coach & a boyAs I sit here listening to my husband help prepare Colton, our son with Asperger’s Syndrome, for his first Special Olympics appearance I’m already starting to tear up. We may not live in the happiest place on earth but Colton Royce Graves is one of the happiest people on the planet. That wasn’t always the case.

Not too many years ago Colton was a sad, angry, friendless kid trying to survive cruel middle-schoolers. He was tormented a medical condition he can’t control. He was desperate for a friend and a place to fit in. The other kids knew that and often pretended to be his friend for the sole purpose of humiliating him. They would pretend to be his friend only to so they could humiliate him by proclaiming to the entire cafeteria that they would never be the friend of the “loser” named Colton.

By his freshman year of…

View original 393 more words

New School Start Times A Flub For School Board?

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, School Buses, Schools with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2014 by Joan Graves

374837_2066137873001_485897450_nI am hearing everyone loud and clear. So, please don’t send me anymore emails in an all caps rage. These school start times are for the birds. No, wait. The birds won’t even be up when the littlest kids are sent out the door.

As I’ve said, many times before this board has been left with a mess to clean up from the previous board. I’m fully aware that this board spends more time making decisions along the lines of, “Is it better to shoot our selves with this gun or stab ourselves with a knife?”  We have people like Judy Hicks to thank for that. However, that doesn’t give them a free pass on all of their choices.

Yes, they were left with an atrocious facility plan they had to clean up but did that lead to this decision about start times?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, because schools had to be closed and others opened because the state refused to allow us the freedom to toss the entire plan out the window and begin again. The state eventually conceded on some items but refused to budge on others. That left us with a less crappy facility plan than we originally had but not a great plan by any means. Now, we have too many kids, in too few of schools, in too large of an area, with too many obstacles for it to make any kind of sense.

I am certain there were many things to consider in making this decision.  But the only true vision of what they have done can be obtained by actually walking in the shoes they forced on our kids feet, especially the little kids.  I challenge every board member, with the exception of Ashley Ritchie (she voted no) and our superintendent Paul Christy, to get on these buses and ride them. Each of them need to be endure the sentence they have placed on our kids. And after they served their time on the bus that’s on the road the longest then go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.

While we wait to see if anyone actually has the courage to take up this challenge, I challenge all of you to contact them and tell them exactly what you’ve told me. This board may make ridiculous choices sometimes but I do believe that they will actually listen.

Stand Up Clark County and say no to these new start times

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