Archive for the In The News 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.

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.

School Bus Fight

Posted in In The News, Point of View, School Buses, WLEX with tags , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2014 by Joan Graves

NOTE: This post is the opinion of Joan Graves and may or may not make up the entire or partial opinion of other Stand Up Clark County associates. 

schoolbusSadly, it’s not an uncommon event.  Out of the blue a fight starts on a school bus.  The driver of the bus must make immediate choices about how to handle the situation.  Recently, this transpired on a Clark County school bus traveling down Lexington Avenue.  Now the driver of the bus is under fire by the mother of one of the students involved.

My heart goes out to that mother.  It’s a sickening feeling to think of your child being in a fight.  The mother is questioning why the driver didn’t stop the bus immediately when the fight started.  As terrible as this is going to sound it is the absolute truth.  A bus load of students cannot have their safety jeopardized for the safety of one, even if that one was my own son.

Lexington Avenue is extremely busy.  Bringing that bus to a halt in the middle of the road with no warning to other drivers, puts not only the students on the bus at risk but also all other drivers around the bus.  And since people frequently walk on Lexington Avenue, pedestrians could have been injured should an accident have occurred.

When you encounter a school bus you expect it to put its stop sign out before it stops.  A stopped bus without its stop sign out will confuse drivers.  They won’t know whether to drive past it or stop.  They won’t know if students or getting off or if the bus has a problem.  Confused drivers cause accidents.

It’s unsafe for any car to suddenly stop in the road. That’s why police officers, pulling over a car for a traffic violation will have the driver move the car if they stop in an unsafe area and they have blue lights to signal them.  It’s also why, if there are no injuries, cars in an accident are told to move their cars out of the roadway.  The road is for moving vehicles not stopped ones.  In this case the bus driver acted appropriately.  However, it should be noted that if the bus driver saw the other student take off his shirt to fight she should have began searching for a place to pull over and perhaps she did.  I don’t know.

Now, for the real issue.  This fight was a 10th grader pounding on a 7th grader.  The problem is the alleged “parenting” of the 10th grade thug.  It takes a real spineless coward to pound on someone so much younger than him.  The thug’s parents should be brought up on charges and he should be completely banned from EVER riding on a Clark County school bus AND not be allowed to drive to school next year. ( See the video of the fight here. www.lex18.com/news/clark-county-bus-fight-caught-on-camera)

It’s time we start getting our schools thug proof.  If this kid wants to act like a thug then let’s treat him like one.  He should have every single extra-curricular activity removed from him, though doubtful he’s involved in anything except himself.  We cannot let people raise their bullies, take no responsibility for them then inflict them on the rest of us. I am sick of it and it’s time we deal with them with a very heavy hand. I encourage Superintendent Paul Christy to deal swiftly and mightily with this thug and boot him out of school for the rest of the year before he unleashes his unconstrained ire on another kid much younger than him and hurts him significantly.

Should this thug act again the school system is now liable because they know they know they have a loose cannon.  We cannot allow thugs and poor parenting to hijack the education and safety of all other students.

Stand Up Clark County and demand that Superintendent Paul Christy put an end to this thug’s brutal rein.

 

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

 

Bad School Administrators Are Everywhere

Posted in In The News, National Stories with tags , , on January 21, 2014 by Joan Graves

Bad Administrators Are Everywhere

marcella_sills  Follow the red-lettered link to a story in the New York Post about a principal accused of biased hiring, racism, poor leadership, intimidation, harassment and more. Across the country, schools are dealing with these types of situations. In each and every case what finally got things changed were people willing to stand up to the head bully in charge.

Stand Up Clark County and never be willing to take a seat at a child’s expense.

Rolling Stone Magazine Report Includes Stand UP Clark County

Posted in In The News, National Stories with tags , , , on December 2, 2013 by Joan Graves

Stand Up Clark County has been receiving a lot of attention lately from various media sources including national outlets. The latest comes from Rolling Stone Magazine. Rolling Stone did a lengthy piece on Deric Lostutter the local man at the center of a federal investigation involving KY Anonymous hacking allegations. The article outlines Lostutters claims of assistance to various groups including Stand Up Clark County, which was already reporting on the school board issues when Lostutter got involved. Read the full article here. http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/anonymous-vs-steubenville-20131127

 

Your Help Urgently Needed

Posted in In The News, National Stories, Winchester Sun, WKYT with tags , , , , , , on November 18, 2013 by Joan Graves

The mission of Stand Up Clark County has always been that of good and that has never been more true than today. A community is known by it’s backbone and our backbone is strong in both giving and receiving through STRIDE. For those that don’t know STRIDE serves individuals with intellectual disabilities by providing them the opportunity to serve the community by volunteering and by being better educated in order to live independently. STRIDE participants learn social skills, how to take care of themselves and participate in Special Olympics. But the greatest thing STRIDE gives to those in the program is what we all take for granted – friendship. This video shows that.

Today STRIDE has the opportunity to win a much needed van from the Toyota 100 Cars For Good program but it can’t be done without you. Please go to https://apps.facebook.com/carsforgood/?fb_source=search&ref=br_tf and vote for STRIDE. This is the only day of voting so don’t hesitate a moment longer. On behalf of all of STRIDE participants, thank you for Standing Up and being a friend.

 

KY High School Athletic Association – KY’s Black Eye To The Nation

Posted in In The News, Louisville Courier Journal, Sports with tags , , , , , , , on October 11, 2013 by Joan Graves

Regardless of what local and state leaders would like us to believe, The Kentucky High School Athletic Association did in fact, ban postgame handshakes. When the bonehead move hit the national news, the back-pedaling started. Now, the KHSAA states that though they banned handshakes they do not intend to enforce the ban. Wow. Way to lead. Make a rule, do not stand by it, and do not enforce it. It is ridiculous and shameful to say the least.

What we now know is that the purpose of the ban was only to free KHSAA from being at fault should a fight breakout during the “good sportsmanlike conduct” of the postgame handshake. Without a doubt sports game violence is on the rise. Rather than actually address a problem KHSAA opted to find a loophole that might clear them of at least a little liability. KHSAA sent their message loud and clear, “Let the kids fight but don’t blame us”. And sadly, the entire country heard.

Violence in sports is a chronically unfolding disaster in our country that few are willing to tackle. I find it profoundly sad. From Little League to high school, regardless of what sport I was playing, not one of my coaches would have ever accepted fighting under any circumstances. I think we can all agree that I am more than a little sassy. Yet, it took only once for me to be benched by a coach to shut me up. Sure I was mad about it but when I complained to my mom she informed me that I would either listen to the coach, quit the team or be kicked off, but she would absolutely not go against any coach teaching me respect. The lesson was well learned.

KHSAAIf the KHSAA truly wants to curb fights at games, they could require higher standards from the coaches. Rather than attach a higher standard clause as a means to clear KHSAA from liability perhaps they should actually investigate claims made against coaches. What would happen if a questionable coach was forced to wear a microphone during games AND practices?

Too many coaches tolerate a bad kid who is a good player because of the pressure to win. What if we recognized coaches for forcing their star player to follow the rules despite a losing season? What if coaches receive bonuses based upon the moral climate of their team and their overall positive influence in the community? What would happen if a coach’s pay grade was determined by his/her positive interaction with players, parents and the community rather than how many games they win? Here is the magic of it all. When we take the time to build good, moral players they naturally morph into a good, winning team. Yet, even if they don’t we must become a society more focused on winning in life rather than the fleeting, good feeling of winning in a moment.

As long as we allow the KHSAA to acknowledge the problems such as Sanford but act only to protect themselves, then we allow them to hold Kentucky to longest, disreputable, shameful and wholly destructive losing streak of all time. The KHSAA has turned KY into a laughing-stock of the entire nation once again. How many times are we going to tolerate this? How long are we going to allow our kids, schools, and ourselves to be led by individuals who seek only to relieve themselves of liability? Until we get serious about leadership, no one else will take our leadership seriously.

Stand Up Clark County and have the courage to lead KY in athletics.

 

Parent Arrested For Challenging School Board

Posted in In The News, National Stories with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2013 by Joan Graves

http://video.foxnews.com/v/2687140351001/why-was-a-parent-arrested-for-protesting-common-core/

So, who has seen this? I’ve known about it for a couple of days now but just watched it. From what I understand there is more of the video floating around but this is the crucial part. I love that this man is shouting for parents to stand up for their kids even as he is being dragged out & falsely arrested. FYI – police dropped the charges today.

High School Football Coaches Brawling On The Field.

Posted in In The News, National Stories, Point of View, Sports with tags , on September 6, 2013 by Joan Graves

http://www.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/sports/2013/09/03/hln-alabama-football-coach-brawl.hln.html

It’s easy to look at this video and think it would never happen to us. But don’t we all get caught up in the game? Check my FB page when a UK basketball game is on and you’ll see me ranting with the best of them.

It’s imperative that we draw a firm line for ourselves, our kids and our coaches. We cannot accept any behavior that strays beyond that line. We set ourselves up for this atrocious behavior when we have coaches angry at players in practice, parents angry at coaches during games and players angry at other players anytime. You may think the swirling animosity has no impact but it does. The distance between the anger in your head being displayed through your hands is a lot shorter than you think.

Stand Up Clark County then step back in the heat of the moment.