Archive for board of education

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.

Parent Arrested For Challenging School Board

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

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.

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.


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 ( 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.

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.

April’s Board Meeting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 19, 2013 by Joan Graves

I am piecing together events from Tuesday’s board meeting. I wasn’t in attendance and wonder of wonders the video doesn’t work – AGAIN! I’m willing to bet we’ve got some middle schoolers in need of summer work, let’s let them have a go at the video. How in the world does the district ever think we can teach by technology when we can’t even upload a video. Anyway….. that’s not my point.

My point is that I am hearing multiple people complaining about the threatening demeanor of two men toward a female board member. Because I wasn’t at the board meeting I need help from all of you. I want to know if any of you felt uncomfortable, threatened or if you thought someone else was threatened. Do you think board meetings are safe?

You can comment on this post and tell me. Comments aren’t visible by others until they are approved by me. If you don’t want others to see your remarks you can tell me not to post the comment publicly and I won’t. I’m not interested in personal vendettas or witch-hunts I am interested only in truth and safety. This issue is too important to trifle with so please only honest responses.

I sincerely hope I am flooded with people telling me it was passionate but not dangerous and that it certainly wasn’t a matter of two grown men acting like buffoons toward a female. That is certainly the best alternative as long as its true. In light of all that’s happening in our country right now the last thing we need is violence whether its real or imagined.

Stand Up Clark County for truth and peace.


Forward Function Is Everything

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement, Point of View with tags , , on March 1, 2013 by Joan Graves

It’s always a healthy exercise to review our past and determine how to correct mistakes we’ve made. But to continually keep our minds in the past is self-destructive and benefits no one, least of all Clark County Students. We may make mistakes but as long as we learn from them, mistakes are good.

This district must come together for the sake of our kids. We can’t have indecisive board members refusing to vote or board members determined to be right at all costs. We need brave-hearted board members willing to run the risk of taking an unpopular vote when it is best for the kids. Previous board members must cut the ties and accept they are no longer decision makers. There is no shame in being able to say, “I gave it my all but the people wanted something different.” There is power in saying, “Hey, we messed that up before and it’s going to cost us to get out of it but in the long-run it is worth it.”

CCPS seems to be afflicted with a chronic illness of an inability to leave the past. We can’t see solutions as long as we keep our heads buried in the past. The current controversies are being fought with old information. Rather than look for new solutions to current questions, our students are being pushed forward on a path littered with out-dated information, irrelevant reporting and misguided speculation. They deserve more than that. Our students deserve leaders willing to carve out a new future for them outside the box.

The opportunity for a fresh start and new direction is being compromised by individuals insisting on promoting our past as the only choice for our future. If we are going to be successful we must look at the past only long enough to take what we need. We must determine what we can learn from previous behavior and simply let the rest go.

In times of confusion, uncertainty and strife, we must train ourselves to see nothing beside or behind us. If we meticulously put one foot in front of the other we will begin to move forward into a better tomorrow. But we’ve got to move. We’ve got to take that first halting step even if we do so in fear. Walking backwards into the future only leaves us spinning our wheels. To seize the hope for our kids we must turn toward the future, walking slowly in wisdom with nothing but a forward function mentality. images (21)

KY Board Of Education & Stand Up Clark County Share Priorities

Posted in Board of Education (General) with tags , , , , , on February 8, 2013 by Joan Graves

Susan Allred, Associate Commissioner of the Kentucky Board of Education, said nearly verbatim what Stand Up Clark County has been promoting for a year. We have always said that the major determining factor of how quickly our schools can recover, meet goals and improve is based upon whether the adults in charge truly have the best interest of the kids as a priority. When we make sacrifices and hard, sometimes unpopular decisions, for the betterment of our students, improvement will run like a wildfire though our schools.


Winchester Sun Reports On Legal Drama

Posted in In The News, Lawsuit, Point of View, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2013 by Joan Graves

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Winchester Sun Reports On Legal Drama

Click the link below the “rethinking education” banner to be connected directly to the Winchester Sun’s report. 

Stand Up Clark County continues to be the central focus in education. Although, we would like to say the central focus is purchasing backpacks for students, improving test scores and retaining our teachers, we accept the attention to our cause and the students of this great county. As the Sun’s report made crystal clear, Stand Up Clark County has done nothing but speak the truth. Which is exactly what we will continue to do.

Stand Up Clark County for truth.

Quote From The Believe With Steve Campaign

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on November 4, 2012 by Joan Graves

“The true victories for improvement in education are not won by some federal or state mandated program, but rather in the battles fought on the front lines, in our local districts and schools. This is where true change occurs. And the time for change is now.” – Steve GravesImage

12 Days To Go – The Candidate Forum

Posted in Board of Education (General), School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2012 by Joan Graves

We’re less than two weeks away from decision day. Tonight candidates in all of Clark County, not just the school board, will take to the stage to present their platform. They will be joined by Congressman Ben Chandler and his challenger, Andy Barr.

You’ve heard the accusations and seen the evidence. You know the past history of the current board of education. We know our school system has been in decline for the last few years. We know a portion of the plans this board has for our schools and they are wildly unpopular.

Tonight gives you an opportunity to take all that information in your head and compare to what your eyes see. The school board has a policy of not talking with the public unless it’s required by law as it was for the middle school merger. Tonight they will be made to answer at least a few questions.

I ask you all to attend the forum with an open mind. Objectively, weigh the candidates against one another. Voting in anger or to support a friend or family member is a misuse of the voting right so many have died to give us. We must vote for people that we honestly believe will make the greatest positive impact on our students. This isn’t about us. It is about them.

Stand Up Clark County and see truth.