Archive for Clark County Public Schools

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.

Campbell Jr. High Bullying Video

Posted in Bullying, Campbell Jr. High, Dustin Howard, Michael Kuduk, Mike Menchen, School Buses, Schools with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2014 by Joan Graves

bullyingRecently, a video was posted on Facebook showing a brief altercation between two students at Campbell Jr. High School. The video was taken and posted by a student who was tired of seeing a fellow student bullied. The video shows a girl, Trinity, standing next to an unnamed male student. In the background students can be heard encouraging the students to fight. As the frenzy grows Trinity suddenly grabs the boy in a headlock and drags him off.

There are multiple problems in this situation. The trigger point for parents was the lack of Campbell staff. Superintendent Paul Christy stated it was “a small area” in front of a large school. He also stated that a minimum of 10 teachers and 2 administrators are always present during dismissal, when this video was shot. Even with the noise of dismissal I can’t imagine how that many employees could miss the sounds of a brewing fight.

According to Trinity’s mother, April, Trinity is special needs. However, she states the school has labeled Trinity a behavior problem. Trinity does not have an IEP (Individual Education Plan) in place, that all special needs students have.  Because Trinity’s disabilities don’t create a learning deficit, an IEP wasn’t needed. However, based on information provided to me, a 504 would have been appropriate.

A 504 refers to Section 504 of the 1973 Federal Rehabilitation Act. It essentially states that no one with any type of disability may be discriminated against. A 504 in place would have meant the school recognized Trinity as being special needs and certain protections, such as an escort to the bus each day, could have been secured. It is extremely interesting or highly questionable, depending on how you look at it, that Trinity did not have a 504 in place at the time of this incident.

Citing privacy issues Christy couldn’t specifically comment on this issue. He did explain steps he has taken to help curb this type of behavior in the future. High school students will no longer be allowed to exit the bus at Campbell. Buses will be assigned specific parking spaces so they are in the same spot each day, keeping students from wondering through the crowd. The most effective prevention however, has been in place for a year.

Affixed inside the front of every bus are two phone numbers. One to the Clark County Sheriff’s office (745-0290) and the other to Winchester Police (355-7443). A student or parent may call either and provide bullying information anonymously. According, to Christy this is the 2nd year the numbers have been available with only a single phone call going into them. With all the bullying allegations why is no one calling?  I hear repeatedly how the schools don’t do enough to stop bullying. This is your way to bypass them and go directly to law enforcement. Parents instruct your child to report bullying to the school first. But if he/she isn’t comfortable with that, or the school doesn’t respond then call one of the numbers listed above and get it stopped.

Here is where the story takes a turn. Prior to the altercation, April had been informed that the district was filing legal papers to have Trinity removed from Campbell citing she was out of control. The posting of the fight video changed everything. When I met with Christy he was clearly angry over the video being shared online. He had contacted Facebook to have the video removed but Facebook declined, saying it didn’t violate their terms of use. According, to Christy he wanted the video removed because “innocent students” were caught in the middle. I saw and shared the video because students circling around and encouraging others to fight are not innocent. Furthermore, you would be hard pressed to identify anyone by the video alone.

The video was allegedly used as a bargaining chip in a meeting between April, Christy, Campbell Principal Dustin Howard and Assistant Principal Mike Menchen. According to April school officials agreed to remove legal filings forcing Trinity from Campbell Jr. High into the Phoenix Academy, if April would remove the fight video from YouTube. April agreed.

The student alleges that she was “forced” by Christy to remove the video from her Facebook page. By doing so it would remove it from everyone’s page who shared it. The moment I received word of this I sent a text to Christy asking him about it because quite frankly, I didn’t believe it. But when he failed to respond I knew chances were high he did. Why else would he not respond?

I then contacted Board of Education Chair, Dr. Michael Kuduk, who, unlike Christy, will respond to inquiries even if he doesn’t like them. Kuduk was in agreement with Christy that the video should not have been online. However, Kuduk stated that Christy had no authority to “force” this student or any other to remove something from his/her personal Facebook page.

It is a shame that Paul Christy resorted to such excessive lengths to have the video removed. This could have been a post about the positive changes he made regarding bulling but instead we are left to wonder why Christy would invest so much time and energy into trying to get rid of a video everyone has already seen? It begs the question, what is he getting rid of that we haven’t seen? Let us hope, nothing. Because the First Amendment of the US Constitution is nothing to be trifled with.

In the future, Superintendent Christy, allow me to save you some time. I always download, save and back-up any video that comes into Stand Up Clark County. So, if I’ve seen it, all your efforts in the world won’t make it go away

Stand Up Clark County for free speech and downloaded videos.

New School Start Times A Flub For School Board?

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, School Buses, Schools with tags , , , , , , , on May 28, 2014 by Joan Graves

374837_2066137873001_485897450_nI am hearing everyone loud and clear. So, please don’t send me anymore emails in an all caps rage. These school start times are for the birds. No, wait. The birds won’t even be up when the littlest kids are sent out the door.

As I’ve said, many times before this board has been left with a mess to clean up from the previous board. I’m fully aware that this board spends more time making decisions along the lines of, “Is it better to shoot our selves with this gun or stab ourselves with a knife?”  We have people like Judy Hicks to thank for that. However, that doesn’t give them a free pass on all of their choices.

Yes, they were left with an atrocious facility plan they had to clean up but did that lead to this decision about start times?  Well, yes and no.  Yes, because schools had to be closed and others opened because the state refused to allow us the freedom to toss the entire plan out the window and begin again. The state eventually conceded on some items but refused to budge on others. That left us with a less crappy facility plan than we originally had but not a great plan by any means. Now, we have too many kids, in too few of schools, in too large of an area, with too many obstacles for it to make any kind of sense.

I am certain there were many things to consider in making this decision.  But the only true vision of what they have done can be obtained by actually walking in the shoes they forced on our kids feet, especially the little kids.  I challenge every board member, with the exception of Ashley Ritchie (she voted no) and our superintendent Paul Christy, to get on these buses and ride them. Each of them need to be endure the sentence they have placed on our kids. And after they served their time on the bus that’s on the road the longest then go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.

While we wait to see if anyone actually has the courage to take up this challenge, I challenge all of you to contact them and tell them exactly what you’ve told me. This board may make ridiculous choices sometimes but I do believe that they will actually listen.

Stand Up Clark County and say no to these new start times

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.

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

 

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.

 

A New Era Begins For CCPS

Posted in Board of Education (General), Encouragement, In The News with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2013 by Joan Graves

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After much deliberation and contemplation Paul Christy has been selected to be the next superintendent of Clark County Public Schools. Christy’s road to the helm of CCPS has been anything but smooth.

During the 2009 superintendent search Christy was in the running but lost to previous superintendent, Elaine Farris. Christy and Farris’s relationship came under scrutiny when Stand Up Clark County released emails exchanged between them. The emails, obtained through Kentucky’s Open Records law, revealed that Christy’s job responsibilities included washing and refueling Farris’s car, despite the fact that he has been a long-time educator in Clark County and was the assistant superintendent at the time.

As our educational woes increased, Christy and his family became a direct target. Mean-spirited and unfounded accusations regarding Christy were submitted to Stand Up Clark County through this blog. The safety of the entire Christy family was brought into question when secret videos of  the Christy home and family, including children, were taken and posted online by KY Anonymous. Throughout the ordeal the Christy family remained strong and committed to educating the students in this county.

Considering Christy has been employed during the controversy and weathered personal attacks himself, he is likely better prepared for the extremely difficult road ahead. Superintendent Christy is the latest step taken on a very long road to healing for this community. There will be many obstacles we still will face but with a new superintendent and united, strong board we are well on our way to improving the educational landscape of this community. Congratulations, Paul Christy and thank you Michael McGowan, Ashley Ritchie and Dr. Michael Kuduk for having the courage and strength to take on the stressful task of bringing forth a new era.

Stand Up Clark County for our new superintendent.

 

Herald-Leader Reports on Failing Facilities Plan

Posted in Board of Education (General), Herald-Leader, In The News with tags , , , , on May 13, 2013 by Joan Graves

Herald-Leader Reports on Failing Facilities Plan

This link will connect you to Kentucky.com where you can read Lexington Herald-Leader educational reporter Jim Warren’s article regarding the upcoming Frankfort meeting for the Clark County facilities plan.