Archive for Clark County 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.

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. 

Partial Lawsuit Resolution

Posted in Lawsuit with tags , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2013 by Joan Graves

In the multiple pages of documents filed by former superintendent Elaine Farris, there was mention of only one specific. Farris stated that Patti and Paul Columbia and I filed false criminal charges against her niece, Tiffany Davis. The charges against Davis stem from an incident during a board meeting when Farris was still in charge of Clark County Schools.  Patti filed criminal charges against Davis after Davis walked by Patti and nudged, kneed, kicked, pushed or whatever verb you prefer to use. Neither Paul nor I had a hand in filing those charges. I, however, was listed as a witness due, in part, to a snippet of video captured on my phone. Davis denied all of the charges and Farris filed her civil lawsuit within a day or so of Davis being criminally charged.

In October, Davis and her attorney met with Clark County Attorney Brian Thomas. After months of delaying Davis’s trial resolution finally came. In a plea bargain, Davis agreed to a peace bond. While it doesn’t necessarily indicate Davis is admitting guilt it certainly makes the statement that she opted not to take her chances before a jury trial. The peace bond functions as a type of restraining order in which Davis agrees to stay away from the Columbias and therefore avoids further court appearances and possible jail time.

Why did you not read this in the Winchester Sun? I asked the same question. The Sun’s response was that since Davis didn’t live in Clark County they didn’t report on it. Yet, the crime occurred in Clark County, the trial would have taken place here and the plea deal was struck by our tax paid county attorney, thereby providing a steak in the case to every tax paying citizen in Clark County. The Winchester Sun is filled daily with car accidents, crimes and other stories regarding individuals that do not live in Clark County. So, we must ask ourselves why the Sun has “rules” that apply to some but not all. Then again, considering comic books are larger than the Winchester Sun these days I don’t think it matters much.

Stand Up Clark County and demand truth and disclosure.  Image

 

Perspective – The Missing Ingredient From Last Night’s Board Meeting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2013 by Joan Graves

After watching the board meeting online my single thought is one of utter sadness. Adults behaving poorly with other adults is bad enough but to do so in front of kids is worse. We can reveiw all the numbers we want, implement the greatest curriculum and build schools made of gold but until we respect one another we will never succeed. And when we don’t succeed it is our kids that pay the highest price.

Once again, it was a fight over the middle school merger. In November this same topic was pivitol in the election of new board members. Ashley Ritchie and Michael McGowan made it clear they were oppossed to the merger and they won their seats by an overwhelming majority. That should be ringing in everyone’s ears.   

This community has left no doubt that the majority is against this facilities plan. So, why is it still even being discussed? We’ve been warned of dire consequences if we don’t accept the facilities plan. A more important question is; have we measured the consequences of not going through with the plan against the consequences of accepting it? 

This entire problem is a direct result of the previous board going against the community’s wishes and purchasing the land on which the new high school is being built. Because that board refused to listen to the majority then, they created this problem now. For every action there is a reaction and it’s time we start making decisions based on our future not our past.

Trying to scare the community into a decision based on loose, ill-defined repercussions without presenting all the options is just wrong. The obligation of our school leaders is to listen to the community. When conflict arises it is their responsibility to present all sides in a clear, neutral manner. As a board member you are not there to represent yourself. You are there to give us all the facts and then taper your vote to fit the majority opinion of your constituents.  Why is that so complicated? The decision is ours.   

For months we’ve heard how there is no way we can get out of this facilities contract with the state. But last night, board attorney Henry Rosenthal, shot holes in that theory when he said the state would allow us to back out. The four reasons he stated as cause for the state to reconsider were; a disaster, a change in enrollment, a change in curriculum or an unforeseen event. Why have we not heard that before? Why have we been told the merger cannot be stopped due to the contract when our own attorney says it can?  I’m not sure which is more frightening board members stating their opinion as fact without first checking to see if the contract could be broken or board members that knew we could get out of it but lied for their own personal reasons. Whatever the case, we all know now.

Three board members have heard the community loud and clear. They are willing to explore the options of reversing an unwanted plan. A board willing to gather all the evidence, present it to the community then vote according to the majority of their constituents will always be remembered as a board of the people. We should never underestimate the power of listening to the people.

 On behalf of this community, I am imploring all of our board members to stop pushing old ideas and embark upon new paths. What you most need to understand is that changing your course is not a personal loss it is instead a community win.  

Stand Up Clark County for a new educational landscape.  

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.

KY’s 2nd Largest Newspaper Accurately Reports CCPS News

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 16, 2013 by Joan Graves

Lexington-Herald-Leader

KY’s 2nd Largest Newspaper Accurately Reports CCPS News

There have been significant concerns regarding the accuracy of reporting by the Winchester Sun, on details surrounding Stand Up Clark County, the previous board of education and Superintendent Elaine Farris. However, it is important to note that the most notable newspaper  reporting on the issues, has done so accurately and fairly. Jim Warren, educational reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader, has never lowered his ethics in the reporting of these ongoing issues. Regardless, of whether circumstances were favorable to Stand Up Clark County’s mission or not, Jim Warren has always been the epitome of what journalism was intended to be.

This link will take you directly to the Kentucky.com website. I encourage you all to reach for absolute truth and the unbiased reporting of the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Stand Up Clark County for unbiased reporting.

Winchester Sun Reports On Board Changes

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), In The News, School Board Election 2012, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , on January 9, 2013 by Joan Graves

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Winchester Sun Reports On Board Changes

Casey Castle with the Winchester Sun reported on events from last night’s board of education meeting.  His report is the latest in the accolades being heaped upon new board members. Expectations for the board were high but  after only one meeting, the praises are higher.  Control of the board is now in the very capable hands of Dr. Michael Kuduk who made it clear that the community-board relationship a priority.  Stand Up Clark County for Dr. Kuduk as he stands for us.

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.

 

Urgent Middle School Merger Message

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , on December 3, 2012 by Joan Graves

Just a quick post to let everyone know that the board of education is continuing with the middle school merger. They are acting as if there was never an election that voted out the main board member pushing this merger. Despite the fact that the community has vehemently spoken out and voted against this merger, the board has scheduled an academic steering committee meeting for today at 4:30. As we have stated before 4:30 is a time when most parents are at work and unable to attend the meeting.

It is unclear whether the board actually has the ability to go forth with any action considering three members are leaving at the end of the month. We are working on verifying the legality of their actions. If you are against this merger you should attend the meeting today if possible. As soon as we obtain more information we will pass it along. Your voices need to be heard and your questions answered. I encourage you to call central office, 744-4545, whether you attend the meeting today or not.

ADDENDUM:

KRS 61.820 states “All meetings of all public agencies of this state, and any committees or subcommittees thereof, shall be held at specified times and places which are convenient to the public, and all public agencies shall provide for a schedule.”

This regulation is part of Kentucky’s Open Meetings Law. Obviously, 4:30 pm is NOT “convenient to the public”. Since the meeting is in session at this very moment we can’t prevent it. However, if the meeting is determined to be illegal decisions made may be reversed.

If you want to file an open meetings complaint you need to send a letter or email to Judy Hicks. She is the current board chair. In the letter you must tell you how the law was violated. (i.e. not convenient to the public when held during working hours). You must also tell her how you want her to respond. (i.e. No more meetings before 6 p.m. and strike all motions, decisions etc. made at the meeting tonight.)

Judy will then have 3 working days to respond. If she doesn’t respond in that time frame or if her response doesn’t satisfy you, you can then file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. You can fax the complaint or send it by mail. The Attorney General website currently has an open meetings” alert advising superintendents of their responsibilities to new board members. It also has more information on our right to know and participate in meetings. If you need help filing your complaint or something isn’t clear let me know.

Stand Up Clark County and protect your vote and your legal right.

Being A Coach of Excellence Only YOU Can Make It Happen

Posted in Board of Education (General), Point of View, Sports, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 5, 2012 by Joan Graves

 

The response to Bledsoe’s tirade has shown the people of Clark County to be more concerned about how our students are treated than anything else. When I posted about Bledsoe 200 people hit this blog in 20 minutes! And they took action by calling GRC principal David Bolen, board members and Elaine Farris. Your direct involvement is what will bring good out of this terrible situation.

Bledsoe hopped on my radar the very first day of school when he stood in front of a class and told them what an ass he is. (His word not mine). On and on he went about the joys of being a jerk. He even called upon “his players” to confirm it for the other students. The ridiculousness of the scene made him look more like a cartoon character than a teacher. Anyone that behaves that way on the very first day of school will do anything.

From nearly the first practice reports came in about the verbally abusive coaching. The first game and especially the one at Montgomery County were filled with inappropriate antics on the sidelines, like face masks and shirts being grabbed by coaches. I’m not expert but I’m thinking if the NFL gives a penalty for it, it certainly shouldn’t be done to high school players. Parents reported coaches were following players down the sidelines screaming at them. Players complained of being humiliated. But it only got worse.

I am told that calls to David Bolen, board members and Elaine Farris resolved nothing. In fact, people became even more angry because they were blown off. The administration’s denial of what was visibly clear on Friday nights was infuriating to people. Why they thought they could talk people out of what they were seeing is beyond me but it certainly was a huge mistake.

People are sick to death of the board and Elaine never accepting responsibility for anything. Our board will not even remotely entertain the possibility of being wrong about anything. And that is why this even with Bledsoe has taken on a life of its own. Why didn’t Bledsoe just apologize? Everyone knows that with controversy an apology is a great PR move. The board could have Bledsoe perform some community service for the disabled  or a motivational class. There are a thousand little things they could’ve done for the betterment of the students but didn’t. They are operating under the misguided notion that if they do nothing they look innocent but nothing could be further from the truth.

Rather than make a small gesture the board has catapulted us into a large scale war where they are attempting to pit parents against coaches making kids pay the highest price. But I am counting on the good coaches and people of Clark County to not let this happen. We are counting on the great coaches to step up and take the lead. Reach out to the community, players and parents by making a public commitment to permanently delete the word “retard” and to not humiliate or demean another by using abusive language. Give a voice to players and parents by providing an anonymous feedback that you can use to build a stronger team.

Report bad coaches. They cast you all in a bad light and you’ve worked too hard to have someone else destroy it. Sports is about skill, teamwork, conflict resolution, discipline and being a role model. Help them learn to navigate them all with excellence. And if in the heat of the  moment you say something wrong, exemplify strength by apologizing to them. Set them on a better path by explaining what went wrong and how it should’ve been handled. Tell them we all need to improve and you’ll try to do better next time. It’s all any of us can do.

By denying what happened and attacking the messenger these adults are victimizing the kids again. That is exactly what causes young girls not to report sexual assault or abused children to confide in a teacher. And in every case it’s the reason for suicide for a bullied kid. Protecting a coach over a player is exactly what happened in the Penn State sex scandal. How many adults knew but failed to intervene for a child?  Don’t be a temporary figure in your players’ lives be a lifelong hero who forever impacted them for good.

Stand Up Clark County coaches of excellence