Archive for the Board of Education (General) Category

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.

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

Integrity Matters Regardless Who Is In Office

Posted in Board of Education (General) with tags , , , on April 15, 2014 by Joan Graves


Integrity MattersSome have the misconception that Stand Up Clark County was formed only to  fight the previous administration.  That is absolutely incorrect.  Stand Up Clark  County isn’t a club.  It is a movement.  It is a citizen’s group committed to fighting  and righting all sorts of wrongs, both in and out of the school system.  When  information is brought forward it is investigated and determined to the best of our  ability, if it is credible or not.  If it is, it does not matter who is on the other end of the wrong.  It will be brought out so that the citizens of this great community can make appropriate decisions.

That being said, this instance does in fact have to do with the school system —-AGAIN!  Considering our past, citizens are significantly less tolerable of misdeeds.  Therefore, they will be aired here at first instance.      

Let us be perfectly clear about what the citizens of Clark County expect from their school administration.

1.  Integrity of the highest level.  

2.  Extreme work ethic.

3.  No good ole boy networking

4.  Superiors hold those in their charge accountable at the FIRST wrong & allow him a chance to correct.

5.  Acceptance that your job is for the education and betterment of this community first and you second.

Stand Up Clark County takes the position that it is always best to keep in mind that you are not getting away with what you think you’re getting away with.  Someone is always watching and the truth is always revealed.

Stand Up Clark County and accept nothing but the absolute best for our kids. 

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.

stand-up-cc1.jpg

 

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.

Better Future For Our Kids Worth The Cost Of Squaring Off With Bullies

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement with tags , , , , on September 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

Better Future For Our Kids Worth The Cost Of Squaring Off With Bullies

injustice anywhere threat

The red-lettered link above will connect you to a post written by attorney Jim Bordas. The post is his reflection upon his life and the things he is teaching his children. He eloquently states the high cost for those with enough courage to stand up to bullies. He doesn’t sugar-coat the ramifications for the pioneers of change. Yet, his words manager to encourage us to continue on in our fight regardless of how we may suffer personally. Like us, he knows the best way to stop bullying in our schools is for kids to see adults standing up to bullies, no matter who they are. Read the post to discover the plan he has to back up the message he is sending.

Stand Up Clark County, we are not alone!

WARNING EXTREME GRAPHIC LANGUAGE School Attorney Verbally Abuses Parents

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), In The News, National Stories with tags , , , , on July 14, 2013 by Joan Graves

I posted a video about Peggy Hatton, a parent of a special needs child, speaking at a board meeting and ridiculed by the school district attorney. Clearly the attorney has a bucket of crazy where his head should be to behave this way. Unbelievable.

 

Parent Of Special Needs Student Ridiculed At Board Meeting

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), In The News, National Stories with tags , , , , , , , on July 14, 2013 by Joan Graves

Peggy Hatton could easily be Joan Graves. Be warned this video escalates into heartbreaking emotion. It will be especially hard for parents of special needs kids to watch because we know all too well the raw pain Hatton expresses.

 

Principal Uses His Power To Get Playing Time For His Son

Posted in Board of Education (General), In The News, Point of View, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2013 by Joan Graves

The Jessamine County Board of Education is currently hearing the contested demotion case of West Jessamine High School Principal, Ed Jones. Jones is accused of interfering in his son’s school athletics over a period of several years. The Jessamine Journal reports that a teacher alleges Jones told her he was “unhappy with the baseball team and his son’s playing time”. The teacher, Denise Hamilton, is married to the coach in question. She described the severe emotional toll of having to cope with what she believed was unethical behavior while trying to maintain her job. “That is my supervisor; he’s in charge of my professional career, and I’ve had outstanding evaluations for 10 years,” I take pride in what I do.’ When referring to an incident where Jones allegedly was angry over his son is playing time, Hamilton said; “I had never seen such rage.” The Journal goes on to state Hamilton testified she was “afraid for her professional career to the point of physical illness.”

Other employees reported Jones had frequently been heard screaming and yelling at employees and coaches. Others allege Jones made remarks such as “He better put my son in” and, “You don’t know who you’re messing with”.

Typically, in these situations a student with a relative abusing educational power gains an over-inflated sense of entitlement. If no one steps up to contest the ethical erosion, the student will see the benefits of continuing the family-trait of narcissism. They fail to realize that their lack of empathy increases the chance of future criminal behavior.

Sadly, this story is playing out in various ways in school districts across America. The very place that should be preparing our kids for a better future has become a breeding-ground for narcissist personality disorder. Compounding the issue are the educators whose goal is to survive so they silently wait for the coming year so they can pass the problem to the next person. That may be getting rid of the problem for one person but it does nothing to improve or enrich the life of the student.

We can compare what happens in our schools to a crocheting project. When you begin crocheting an afghan, it does not look like much. The pattern we hope we are creating remains hidden as one loop is weaved into the next. It is only after a significant amount of time, money and effort has been invested that we begin to see the pattern is not at all, what we expected. Then we must decide whether we should rip it out and begin again or attempt to cover up the parts we do not like.

A kid who depends on someone else’s power to get him through life will not have the first clue what to do when that power fails him. And make no mistake about it, that day will come. The only question is are we going to be people willing to rip out what’s wrong and start over while we have a chance to make a difference, or are we going watch the them self-destruction years later, unraveling from the inside out?

Stand Up Clark County and embrace the hobby of crocheting.