Archive for the Board Members Category

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.

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

My Final Thought In Song For Tonight’s Meeting

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Dr. Michael Kuduk, Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, Schools with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2014 by Joan Graves

keep-calm-and-love-toby-mac  I find the words I long to say to my community in the lyrics of a Toby Mac song.  I ache for our school board struggling to make decisions for the common good of everybody.  But my heart also aches for those, few as they may be, who will feel disappointed.  My prayer is that we all find a way to look beyond ourselves and go back to being the family of a community.  It was Winchester that taught me the meaning of community and forever changed my life.  I pray for us to once again become the family we were meant to be. After all, as Toby Mac says, “If we’re gotta start sometime why not now?”  Well, I’ll let Toby tell you the rest.  Just know I love you Clark County – ALL of you.

If you gotta start somewhere why not here? If you gotta start sometime why not now? If we gotta start somewhere I say here. If we gotta start sometime I say now. Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from cathedrals to third world missions. Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave!

Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints. Two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight. When we step across the line, we can sail across the sea to a city with one King. A city on our knees

Tonight could last forever. WE ARE 1 CHOICE FROM TOGETHERas a family. We’re family.
Oh Tonight couldn’t last forever, we are one choice from together. You & me. It’s you and me.
IF WE GOTTA START SOMEWHERE WHY NOT HERE? IF WE GOTTA START SOMETIME WHY NOT NOW?
Stand Up Clark County & be that City on our Knees. A city willing to start here and now.

Facility Plan – What Are We Made Of?

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Encouragement, In The News, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, School Board Election 2012, Winchester Sun, WKYT with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2014 by Joan Graves

the-future Tomorrow night the Clark County School Board will vote on which facilities plan to accept.  Each plan has its strength and its weaknesses.  Each plan will make some pleased and leave others mad.  That can be said of any facility plan in any school board room in any town USA.  Clark County will no doubt have double the emotions simply because of all we have been through prior to this point.

Our facility plan drama began years ago with a highly controversial plan cloaked in accusations of wrongdoing and corruption.  From the moment the ink was quietly placed on the contract, the deal immediately began treading water in a pool of innuendo that immediately divided the community.

It had been quite some time since several of those school board members had been challenged so apparently they were under the misguided notion they could do as they pleased.  They simply did what they had always done.  They counted on the community’s outrage to play itself out and citizens to lose their steam.  When instead the community rallied together to fight for the common good of everybody then things changed.

behind clouds  The previous board’s inability then and even now to consider that they made terrible mistakes, disregarded community opinion, failed to weigh all the options or even begin to have the courage to stand up for the least of us, proves how grossly inadequate they were to represent the greatest of us.  Therefore, they brought shame and suspect upon all of their actions most notably the notorious facilities plan.  In an outrageous show of unification, the community made clear their disgust of being muted and voted out the old and in the new.  Now, we turn to a new era.  It’s a new time and opportunity.

This is the first time that any board member, with the exception of Judy Hicks, in this entire facilities plan drama, has taken time to consider all angles.  This board heard the community loud and clear.  They fought the state.  They have labored, sweat, prayed, talked, lost sleep over and contemplated beyond the realms any of us wish to consider.  This board has taken on what everyone wanted changed but few dared to tackle.  This board, with the exception of Judy Hicks, stepped up to the mound in the last inning with everything lined up against them and nothing going for them but an overwhelming desire to take one for the team because it’s the right thing to do.  Could you do it?  I couldn’t.  That’s why I didn’t run for the board.  images (18)

So, on this eve that changes everything I am asking you, Clark County, what are we made of?  This facilities plan is more than about a mere vote on metal and steel.  It’s a vote on the kind of people we are.  Are we selfish people willing to turn on one another if we don’t get our way?  Are we weak people willing to flaunt that our vote won over the plan that didn’t?  Or are we people with backbone, people who reach deep and know that regardless of what tomorrow holds it is a new era?  It’s a time of when we say all that is gone before, matters no more.  We have a board that will never again put our kids or their own reputations on the market to the highest bidder.  There is no more secret meetings, over-paid bureaucrats, over inflated egos or nauseating misuse of the media.

Life has shown us that more often than not to find what is keeping we must first sift through the rubbish.  To find a hidden treasure we must get dirty digging it from the dirt.  To find a diamond we have to travel the blackest coal shafts.  And if we want real gold then we have to spend hours on our knees shaking it from the imposters and fool’s gold surrounding it.  Finding what is real is important but what becomes more important is how do we treat what is authentic when we are not accustom to seeing it?  Now, is our time Clark County.  Stand up for your school board and say we respect your effort you have put into this decision making process – thank you for having the courage to do the job no one else wanted.

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Forget Halloween, This Level Of Hypocrisy Is Truly Frightening

Posted in BJ Swope, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Emails with tags , , , , , , , on September 23, 2013 by Joan Graves

Former board of education member, BJ Swope recently decided to “get a few things off his chest”. Recently, he posted this to his FB.

“My view on the local politics. Some decisions were made 4-1/2 years ago for the safety of students. The new board is elected and they did not address the safety concerns that was brought up in 2008. The concerns was a “game changing” enough that I changed my stance on a topic in April 2008. I lost “friends” and the trust of the people around me because what I found out but kept my mouth shut, hoping and praying that the problem will get solved. I will not go into detail but am very disappointed in the direction of this new board. The new board has chose to play politics and hire someone that was the least qualified candidate academically. The new board members ran on the platform of “we want to save small schools & were against the merged middle school,” yet hire the one candidate that voted twice in a sub-committee for the current facility plan. Way to “stand up Clark County” for the best interests of students and not your own political desires.”

BJ was my board representative and I trusted him. Due to the ongoing litigation I cannot get into the specifics of what BJ told me but suffice it to say, he was not a fan of Elaine Farris’s nor Judy Hicks. In fact, he was not a fan of anything that was taking place or so it would seem. In January 2011, BJ voted against accepting a personnel package that contained the firing of GRC’s head football coach. Later, I would learn through legally obtained emails that BJ was not only telling me what the board was doing but also he was telling the board what I was doing. I thought I was talking to a trusted advisor. I had no way of knowing he was playing both sides against the middle. I feel I must now apologize to the community for the faith I had in BJ Swope. I was duped once but I will not be again. BJ Swope is the absolute last person who should be discussing student safety or anything else about our schools. However, you do not need me to tell you that. Just take a look at his remarks in his own words.

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This email was retrieved through Kentucky‘s Open Records Law, which is ironic considering there is nothing open about it. While it seems BJ had concern for the kids, it should be noted that the school in question was already housing students. Which means he knew of a direct threat to our students and did not report it to the public. He opted instead to continue chasing down answers from people he believed was being evasive. The email dated September 23, 2010 but according to BJ’s recent FB post he knew back in 2008. The post states it was a “game changer” as he reversed his opinion on building the new high school. According to BJ himself, he opted to build the new high school because of safety issues at the old GRC building.

BJ openly admits to “keeping his mouth shut” about the safety issues. Which means he knew for YEARS students were in danger and did not a single thing to protect them. How many students were in jeopardy? How many still are in danger? Even now, he will not come clean. He openly admits to endangering the lives of thousands of students and did nothing but “hope and pray” the problem resolved itself. Are you kidding me?! How in the world could doing absolutely nothing to protect students ever be a good idea for anyone, most especially a board of education member? What about the students in the building now? Is the danger still there? Considering BJ’s level of resentment against the new board, it is a safe assumption to say he has not revealed his safety concerns. I suggest the parents of Conkwright Middle School students explore this safety threat.

The Kentucky School Board Association (http://www.ksba.org/) defines the code of ethical conduct a school board member should have and there is an oath of office each member takes. I have no idea what the repercussions are for a public official who confesses to violating his oath of office, voting against his constituents, failing to advise students of potential danger and deceiving the public,. What I do know is the current board of education is working hard to dig us from the muddy mire in which the previous board dumped us. They are performing their job in the face of great adversity with integrity, commitment, courage and a level of transparency we have not had in years, if ever.

Stand Up Clark County and so no more hypocritical leaders for our schools.

Senator RJ Palmer Seeks Our Support

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, Board Members, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Political Scene, RJ Palmer, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , on August 30, 2013 by Joan Graves

Senate28Senator RJ Palmer is seeking the support of Stand Up Clark County. Palmer cites his bi-partisan efforts in improving Kentucky and his renewed “commitment to improving education” as reasons for our support.

In the beginning, Stand Up Clark County was dismissed as the unorganized and inconsequential work of only a few. Yet, just as history has done so many times and will no doubt continue to do, underestimating a group of citizens banded together to right wrongs can have serious repercussions. When Colonist, labeled as rebels and troublemakers, had their cries ignored they took control of themselves and the world for that matter, from England and have never returned it. Our fight, albeit, on much smaller scale has been no less significant.

Last November the people of Clark County screamed their need for change at the election poles. After nearly a decade on the board of education, Debbie Fatkin, widely known in the community, lost her seat to unknown resident Michael McGowan. Deanna Wolfe, who has powerful connections at WKYT also lost to an unknown, Ashley Ritchie. Though Beth Griffith was not fully supported by Stand Up Clark County we certainly did not oppose her because the seat she sought against Steve Graves would see change no matter the victor as BJ Swope was not seeking re-election.

People tend to take notice when a group of unknowns demonstrates the power and ability to evoke great change. Now, more than ever we must be diligent in who we support. We have set a precedence and we have a responsibility to the people of Clark County. The trust of the people will always be a top priority for us. We must do as we have always done, research, post facts and informed opinions.

Therefore, this post is to serve only as a notice of the support request from Senator Palmer not a political opinion. We need to generate conversation and share information. Watch for future posts regarding Senator Palmer as research on him takes place. Once all the information is, compiled Stand Up Clark County will then decide if Senator Palmer is a good fit for our focus, goals, and beliefs. So….. Stand Up Clark County and speak your thoughts and experiences about Senator RJ Palmer.