Archive for Debbie Fatkin

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.

My Final Thought In Song For Tonight’s Meeting

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, BJ Swope, Board Meetings, Board Members, Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Dr. Michael Kuduk, Elaine Farris, Encouragement, Judy Hicks, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Point of View, Schools with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2014 by Joan Graves

keep-calm-and-love-toby-mac  I find the words I long to say to my community in the lyrics of a Toby Mac song.  I ache for our school board struggling to make decisions for the common good of everybody.  But my heart also aches for those, few as they may be, who will feel disappointed.  My prayer is that we all find a way to look beyond ourselves and go back to being the family of a community.  It was Winchester that taught me the meaning of community and forever changed my life.  I pray for us to once again become the family we were meant to be. After all, as Toby Mac says, “If we’re gotta start sometime why not now?”  Well, I’ll let Toby tell you the rest.  Just know I love you Clark County – ALL of you.

If you gotta start somewhere why not here? If you gotta start sometime why not now? If we gotta start somewhere I say here. If we gotta start sometime I say now. Through the fog there is hope in the distance, from cathedrals to third world missions. Love will fall to the earth like a crashing wave!

Tonight’s the night, for the sinners and the saints. Two worlds collide in a beautiful display. It’s all love tonight. When we step across the line, we can sail across the sea to a city with one King. A city on our knees

Tonight could last forever. WE ARE 1 CHOICE FROM TOGETHERas a family. We’re family.
Oh Tonight couldn’t last forever, we are one choice from together. You & me. It’s you and me.
Stand Up Clark County & be that City on our Knees. A city willing to start here and now.

Stand Up Clark County, Bow & Take A Seat You Won!

Posted in School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , on November 6, 2012 by Joan Graves

Congratulations Ashley Rithie, Michael McGowan and Beth Griffith. I am so amazingly proud of this community. This is what it’s about. This is what it means to be in America. We exposed the corruption and you said enough is enough.

To all of Steve’s supporters thank you. You guys are amazing. You worked tirelessly. I have made so many new friends through this process. And now I can fully admit that I am actually glad Steve didn’t win. I wanted a change in leadership on the board. Steve and I had many long talks about what it would mean to our family. We made the decision to make the sacrifice but if I’m honest I have to say, I’m really glad we don’t have to actually do it. Sometimes God just wants us to be willing to make the sacrifice.

The major message is that the community overwhelmingly voted in Michael McGowan. Voting out incumbant Debbie Fatkin for a little known resident like Michael McGowan speaks volumes. The same can be said of Ashley Ritchie. Her opponent, Deanna Wolfe, was not as instrumental as Debbie but the message was equally clear. This community has had enough. We asked you for change and you gave it. It’s a lesson that is turning heads.

Stand Up Clark County didn’t promote Beth Griffith but we are asking the community to support her now. We want to give Beth all the tools of success and that means throwing our support behind her. In January three of our five board members will be new. On key issues such as closing small schools and combining the middle schools we know three board members are in agreement. We have no reason to think this board will not be successful.

It has been an incredible journey and you all have blessed my life tremendously. I just don’t have the words to express what this night means. This victory has been a looooong time coming. But…..CLARK COUNTY! Take a seat. Your job is done.


Debbie Fatkin: What We Learned At The Candidate Forum

Posted in Board of Education (General), Debbie Fatkin, In The News, School Board Election 2012, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , on October 26, 2012 by Joan Graves

Debbie Fatkin has been on the board for 8 years. I think in the beginning Debbie had good intentions. But the longer she is on the board the less in touch she becomes. Over the years Debbie’s behavior indicates she has become more inwardly focused. She no longer sees people only policy. Michael McGowan, Debbie’s challenger, has the exact opposite approach. He believes people are more important than policy making.

At the forum, Debbie stated that our students need iPads rather than textbooks.  On the surface that makes sense. But when we look deeper we find it is just not an option right now.

The argument against textbooks is that they are quickly outdated. Yet, as anyone with an iPhone, iPod or iPad can tell you, a new version comes out frequently and if you don’t upgrade, the older versions become sluggish and high maintenance. An iPad also comes with a lot of expenses such as apps, batteries, cords and repairs to name a few. Besides that, if we can’t afford a $40 textbook how in the world will we pay for $500 iPads?

If an iPad is better than a textbook why do colleges across the nation require  textbooks?  Reading and studying online is vastly different from book learning. Textbooks are formatted in a specific way to maximize learning. Not to mention being online opens a ton of distractions for students. It’s too easy to ditch studying for fun. The board has the goal of every student being college ready. How is that ever going to happen if we don’t give them the basic tool needed in college – a book?

Debbie’s actions on the board defy her words. She says her decisions are made based upon what’s best for students. She says she wants to improve the relationship between the board and the community. Yet, after listening to strong, well-stated arguments from parents to slow down the middle school merger, she not only voted to go ahead with it, she actually made the motion for it. If she refuses to turn her words to action now when she is days away from the election what will she do when she has four years of job security?

Debbie defended the building of new schools by saying they would stimulate our economy. Her rationale is that industries considering locating here will see large new buildings and conclude the school system must be great. That single statement defines exactly what is wrong with the board.

Everything the board does is cosmetic. They invest time and money into making things look good. Their thought is that if it’s pretty on the outside no one will see the chaos on the inside. It’s all smoke and mirrors and by the time people figure out they’ve been duped it’s too late.

At the forum Debbie simplified the choice. If you want more of the same trickery, board-focused policy with no say in how your child is educated or the way your money is spent then vote for her. But if you are tired of playing make-believe and are interested in real change for our kids and our community vote for Michael McGowan.

Tonight’s Middle School Merger Meeting & Why BJ Swope Didn’t Vote For It

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Documents, Elaine Farris, Emails with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2012 by Joan Graves

Tonight's Middle School Merger Meeting & Why BJ Swope Didn't Vote For It

Tonight there was a meeting about the merging of middle schools. Michael McGowan and Steve Graves, candidates for the school board, both eloquently stated their convictions against the merger. Judy Hicks took a hard-nosed approach about not breaking contracts. She fails to remember her contract was first with the community she serves and second to the people we pay.

The theme of the night was parents pleading for the board to slow down and consider all options before blindly plowing ahead. The board was basically listening only because they are required to. The superintendent and boar chair made it clear their minds were made up. Dr. Michael Kuduk voted against the merger. Debbie Fatkin who made a motion for the merger last week didn’t bother to show up. Deanna seconded Debbie’s motion last week be remained silent tonight. That leaves only BJ.

In this email dated September 23, 2010 BJ questions Elaine regarding safety issues of the current GRC building. Two years ago BJ Swope made it clear that his conscience wouldn’t allow for him to place middle schoolers in a building that so many of us already have kids in. The safety violation is never explained. Is it mold? Is it worse?

We don’t know because as BJ clearly states Elaine won’t answer. What we do know is that in the email BJ says he can’t vote to put middle school students in the building and last week he stayed true to his word. Rather than take a stand on it he opted to abstain.

The cry from the parents tonight is clear. What is really behind the rush of this middle school merger? Why is our board so absolutely adamant that this be done right now? Is the rush somehow connected to BJ’s safety concerns? There is more than we know but the great thing is that we have a group of middle school parents able to clearly articulate exactly what’s on their minds. They are willing to invest their time and effort into finding what is truly steering the middle school merger.

Stand Up Clark County and support the middle school parents.


Quick, Get Superintendent Elaine Farris A Fire Extinguisher – Her Pants Are On Fire

Posted in Debbie Fatkin, Elaine Farris with tags , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2012 by Joan Graves


At the March board of education meeting I advised the board and superintendent Elaine Farris that Clark County Schools have mold problems. I specifically addressed the preschool department and the consequences mold could have on students with special needs. Rather, than look into the situation Elaine Farris’s opted instead to threaten me with a lawsuit.

Stand Up Clark County was unwilling to take part in the gross negligence that now makes up our board. Instead, we set about quietly collecting documents, information, first-hand accounts and pictures. When a news reporter called Superintendent Farris she lied and said there was no mold in any Clark County School.   They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But when the picture proves beyond doubt that the superintendent of our schools flat lied, I think it’s worth a lot more.


Everyday students are required to sit in this classroom with obvious mold problems. Is it your child’s class?


After fibbing to the reporter Elaine Farris hung up the phone and immediately went to work on the cover-up. She instructed mold-filled rooms be cleaned. She placed new tile over old mold which does nothing. Because she failed to follow appropriate Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) protocol she may have potentially made a bad situation worse. According to the EPA improper mold removal may endanger the employee and potentially release hundreds of mold spores into the air.

The EPA website has a section dedicated specifically to mold in schools. They emphasize the importance of school administrators communicating with the community about potential mold problems. “Special communication strategies may be desirable if you are treating a mold problem in a school. Teachers, parents, and other locally affected groups should be notified of significant issues as soon as they are identified.” (emphasizes mine)

The EPA further states that all reports of mold should be taken seriously and acted upon. It has been 6 months since I brought the issue of mold to the board. According to vice-board chair Debbie Fatkin, “Elaine always follows protocol”. That clearly is not true in this case. Rather than follow EPA protocol the board and Elaine first opted to ignore the mold issue then to cover it up.

People respond to mold differently. Even the least dangerous variety may significantly impact the health of some. Interestingly, I received a picture of mold from someone who doesn’t know me or my family. The picture was of students standing approximately 10 feet from mold. One of those students was my son, Dalton. Dalton has reactive airway disease (RAD) a form of asthma. He has an inhaler and has been hospitalized requiring an oxygen tent in the past. It is truly frightening for a mother to see her child standing so close to something that could kill him. Even more frightening is knowing that the board of education and superintendent are so willing to gamble with his life.

Elaine Farris’s response to the mold is in direct opposition of what the EPA recommends. “Communication with building occupants is essential for successful mold remediation. Some occupants will naturally be concerned about mold growth in their building and the potential health impacts. Occupants’ perceptions of the health risk may rise if they perceive that information is being withheld from them. The status of the building investigation and remediation should be openly communicated including information on any known or suspected health risks.” (emphasizes mine)

Indeed, we must wonder why our superintendent would go to such lengths to cover up mold. Which is why members of Stand Up Clark County contacted the EPA. Today the Clark County Health Department, at the request of the EPA, conducted a walk-through of GRC and mold was visible. All the lies in the world can’t cover up what is clearly right before our eyes.

Stand Up Clark County and tell the board that you are fed-up with them and the superintendent endangering students and betraying public trust.


Soldier Denied Voting Right

Posted in Debbie Fatkin, National Stories, Point of View with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2012 by Joan Graves

Soldier Denied Voting Right

Michael McGowan is running against Debbie Fatkin in the school board race for district 3. As we all know there are those working overtime to keep you from having a choice about who represents us. McGowan has had multiple deployments and numerous awards. He put his life on the line to secure for us what he was denied. Shameful. 

Last Nights Heated Meeting

Posted in Board Meetings with tags , , , , , , , on June 20, 2012 by Joan Graves

Last Nights Heated Meeting

This is the link to watch last night’s board meeting. I don’t know if the camera was rolling for the final portion of Elaine’s evaluation because I haven’t watched it. I don’t think it was on, but need to double check. It was a looooooong meeting. I spoke immediately after the award portion of the video. John Adkins spoke after I left the room.