Archive for election

Making a 911 Call To KDE

Posted in Board Meetings, Board of Education (General), Judy Hicks, Point of View, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2013 by Joan Graves

Tonight the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) will be our board meeting. Regardless of what you think about the middle school merger KDE’s attendance is important for 5 reasons.

1. Our superintendent has direct ties to KDE.

2. The Winchester Sun recently printed a letter from KDE, they claimed to have obtained through an open records request. However, they would have to have known EXACTLY what to request. Considering, it was a letter to Dr. Kuduk from KDE someone obviously had to tell them. That is an incredible ethics violation that at the very least borders on the illegal.

3. KDE stated months ago that the department had been “inundated with complaints regarding Clark County Schools” for months but they have failed to intervene. They have also stated that they are “carefully monitoring” events.

4. In November the community ousted former board members when the middle school merger was a major voting point. Beth Griffith appeared to change her opinion on the matter frequently however, her conduct on the board makes clear her intention to support this merger despite the fact that the majority of the people she represents is NOT in favor of it. Judy Hicks also continues to support the merger when her constituents are also opposed.

5.  This community heavily voiced their disapproval for this facilities plan, years ago. In fact, prior to the existence of Stand Up Clark County another citizen’s group took their fight against the facilities plan straight to KDE’s door, receiving no assistance.

I have no idea what will happen at tonight’s board meeting. What I do know is that this community is being held hostage by an unwanted, poorly executed facilities plan we never wanted and despite our many pleas to the state they refused to help us. Now, the only people paying for this mess are the very ones they sought assistance to stop it in the first place. In an emergency you dial 911 for help and protection. Clark County made an educational 911 call and have been on hold for years. So, KDE, will you at long last take our call tonight?

Stand Up Clark County!


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.


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

What Does Stand Up Clark County Stand For?

Posted in School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by Joan Graves

Stand Up Clark County has undergone many changes over the last year. We have won and we have lost. We have grown in numbers and in strength. Yet, in all the changes our core beliefs remain the same.

We are not in favor of closing small schools. It makes no sense to close the best schools in the county and force them into lower performing schools. The state restrictions on the number of students a school contains does not apply to schools already in existence only to new ones being built.

We do not support combining our middle schools. Experts will tell you the middle school years are some of the most difficult. It is not logical to create one massive middle school when we they aren’t functioning at their highest level independently.

Stand Up Clark County wants technology in our schools. However, our students are in greater need of the basics. Studying by worksheets or online is vastly different from studying from a textbook. Colleges across the country require textbooks. How will our students ever be college ready if they have no experience with the basic tool of a textbook?

Clark County has some of the greatest minds in education. We have amazing teachers doing tremendous things with very little. We need to give them more. Therefore, we are against spending $50 for valet parking, fueling the superintendent’s car, flying around the country and going on retreats twice a year while our teachers are paying for supplies out of their own pockets. Our teachers work for less money, for longer hours, buy their supplies and live terrified of losing their job. That must change. If we aren’t committed to our teachers we have not right to expect them to be committed to us.

We can’t expect a different outcome if we keep doing what we’re doing. The only path to success is change. We have a rare opportunity to change things in a single day. We can vote in three new board members with fresh ideas, dedication and willingness to take on the enormous responsibility of pulling our schools from the mud in which we’ve been stuck.

We are Stand Up Clark County and we are asking you to give us four years of new board members and they will give us four years of school improvement.  On Tuesday Nov. 6 you will walk into the voting booth the same as you’ve always been. But when you push the button for Steve Graves, Ashley Ritchie or Michael McGowan you leave that booth knowing our students are no longer Waiting For Superman.

Stand Up Clark County and save our schools.


Michael McGowan: What We Learned At The Candidate Forum

Posted in Debbie Fatkin, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , on November 1, 2012 by Joan Graves

My son DJ is special needs and non-verbal which makes his health care twice as difficult. Doctors make their best guesses, we try the treatment and see if it works. Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. I have tremendous confidence in his doctors which is why it took them awhile to convince me to let another doctor have a chance with DJ. They felt another doctor could provide a view we’ve overlooked. As they explained, sometimes you can’t see the cure for the problem because you’ve been looking for it for too long. They were right. The other doctor was instrumental in finally getting a diagnosis that changed DJ’s life.

That is the same philosophy we need to apply in the school board election. Michael McGowan needs to be our educational second opinion. His lack of experience in education is one of his strongest points. He’s not coming into this campaign with any hidden agendas or special allegiance to an elite few.  He is free to openly examine the board and see what we all may be missing.

Michael is a military man who has served our country in some of the most hostile environments in the world, such as Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.  It’s said that America is the world’s police. Therefore, by being military police that makes Michael McGowan the police of the world’s police.

Serving our country has taught Michael the benefits of slow deliberate assessments rather than plunging head first into decisions. He is a fact checker with preparation skills to be envied. He is not afraid to move ahead if need be and he has an uncanny ability to analyze data and people and balance them equally.

In the past our board has shown a tendency toward cliques. Though there is only 5 of them somehow they manage to divide themselves in ways that aren’t beneficial to our students. The military isn’t tolerant of that sort of behavior and taught Michael how to lead and unite people even when they disagreed. Years of dealing with hostile, aggressive enemies has taught him the art of peacekeeping without domination. He is the exact equilibrium our board needs.

Michael McGowan was born to serve. It’s not something he was taught it’s  something he is. He lacks the ability to see anything except what is best for the common good of everybody. He bravely served our country during the dark devastating days of 9/11 with calm, focused determination and commitment. He will do no less for our schools.

If you want more of the same political games, childish cliques, self-centered decisions and deception then vote for Debbie Fatkin. If you want a new perspective on our problems from a researched, logical non-emotional view point then vote Michael McGowan. He stands ready to protect our kids with the same valor he used to protect our country.

Middle School Parents Take A Look At Your Opposition

Posted in Board of Education (General), Documents, Emails, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , on October 27, 2012 by Joan Graves

Yesterday I posted IP address on my FB page telling her I was tracking her. I tried to ignore her but she is having none of that. So, I want you all to see what is happening behind the scenes.

I have listed her comments below followed by my responses to her. The first comments are in response to the post on the Community Eligibility Option.

Submitted on 2012/10/20 at 12:22 pm

Please post the attachment explaining the rationale

Joan Graves Submitted on 2012/10/20 at 4:18 pm | In reply to Anonymous.

I’m not certain what you want me to post.If you go to the Winchester Sun’s website you can search the archives for the 2 articles I mentioned.

You can go to the U.S. Dept. of Education & the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to obtain info on the Healthy hunger-free program & the Community Eligibility Option.

Hope that answers your questions, if not let me know. Thanks for reading the blog.

Submitted on 2012/10/20 at 8:34 pm

The attachment referenced in the emails with the district”s rationale

Joan Graves Submitted on 2012/10/20 at 11:01 pm | In reply to Anonymous.

The rational was the letter Elaine sent to the Winchester Sun on Aug. 2011. This is the link to that letter.,0,1281648.story

This exchange left me thinking she wasn’t really interested in truth because the information was before her. All she had to do was a few minutes of research. When she found herself unable to dispute the facts I laid out she moved on to her next target.

When I posted about the middle school merger meeting I said, “Debbie Fatkin didn’t bother to show up.” Though, I didn’t go back to confirm it, I accepted that Debbie was at the meeting and apologized for the mistake.

Submitted on 2012/10/23 at 10:24 pm

To clarify a statement above… Debbie Fatkin was in attendance tonight sitting in the front row next to BJ Swope. The room was crowded and it was easy to miss people in attendance.

Joan Graves

Submitted on 2012/10/23 at 11:04 pm | In reply to Anonymous.

My apologies to Debbie. I didn’t see her & asked people that were there that apparently didn’t see her either. Thanks for bringing that to our attention.

It’s hard to argue when someone who admits a wrong and apologizes. Since her whole point is to discredit me she now starts grasping at straws.

Submitted on 2012/10/24 at 7:12 pm | In reply to Joan Graves.

Winchester’s population is approximately 18,500. 200 people is barely over 1%. That is a far cry from a majority.

Joan Graves

Submitted on 2012/10/24 at 8:30 pm | In reply to Anonymous.

I didn’t say everyone in the majority attended the meeting. How many times has a school board meeting drawn that many community members? That is about 5 times the average board meeting. There is a problem when that many people show up unhappy. This has been the case twice in the last 10 months. And it’s not just the same people voicing the same complaints.

Knowing she had nothing to fight facts with she dropped it and moved on to the candidate forum. Obviously, this is just an attempt to provoke a fight so I didn’t bother responding.

Submitted on 2012/10/26 at 8:14 am

Wonderful public forum last night at the extension office. Here are my thoughts on the candidates for the school board.
Mr Graves – He came across to me as “a jokester”, full of negativity and has a personal agenda. Not someone I’d vote for to move our schools forward.
Dr Griffin – She started out a little nervous but came around. Seems to be in the race for “ALL” the kids. Very intelligent lady. Someone I’d vote for.
Mrs Fatkin – Has a lot of experience and has lobbied for “ALL” the kids. She’s someone I’d vote for.
Mr McGowan – Oh my!! What a jerk. Another one with a personal agenda. He must have been called to the principles office many times. No way would he get my vote.
Ms Ritchie – Interesting character. Definitely in over her head. She had to read off McGowan’s paper to answer questions. Did she do that in class too? No way would I vote for her.
Mrs Wolfe – Very nice quiet lady. Seemed to very genuine. She seems like she’d bring some common sense to the board. I’d vote for her.

So, stand up Clark County and continue to move our schools forward. Vote for Griffith, Fatkin and Wolfe.

Since she was having trouble baiting me she stepped up her assault and went after the middle school merger. The gloves are off and the profanity unleashed.

Sit Down Stand Up Clark County
Submitted on 2012/10/27 at 12:51 am

Slow down? What the hell are you talking about? This has been in the works for years? Slow? The only thing slow around here is your reaction time to the issue.

We (Winchesters natives capable of rational & independent thought) are so sick of you and your self righteous husband and all the bullshit you’re both peddling as facts. Please, just go back to sleep and let the intelligent grown ups deal with these issues. This is all too important to let some sad little housewife with an axe to grind have any say in the matter.

Woohoo – you filed some paperwork and got to look at some random emails. What in the hell makes you think this gives you insight into anything? You take it all out of context, mix it up and vomit back some ridiculous unfounded and unproven claims like you have some special insight. First it was fun to watch you make a fool of yourself, but we can’t take it anymore.

Ok, so to stay on topic. Since apparently BJ Swope’s judgement is valuable enough for you to pick apart this portion of an email conversation and use it for your own personal agenda, then let me ask you this — if BJ Swope is smart enough to not vote for the middle school because of security concern, then why aren’t you pressing him to know what that concern was? I’ll answer for you: because you’re too deep into your own BS to keep sight on the real issue. If BJ Swope hasn’t done something since 2010 to make sure this security concern was fixed, then his opinion shouldn’t be of any value to you.
– and if the security issue hasn’t been addressed yet, then this renovation of the school should be fast tracked so we can make sure our students are safe.

Your arguments are weak.

Sit Down Stand Up Clark County.

This is typical behavior. When they can’t do anything else they lie, curse and name call. They demand evidence but provide none of their own. When they get evidence they discredit it. In order to draw attention from the truth they start making personal attacks and trying to drag everyone else down to their level. It is classic text-book desperation.

Ashley Ritchie, Michael McGowan and Steve Graves articulated their thoughts, priorities and goals for the school board. All three candidates spoke with confidence, proving they have the ability to remain faithful to the change we all want and need. Seeing that displayed before the masses has scared the heck out of our opponents. They were hoping our candidates would fall on their face but when they saw the support they received an attack was in order. Because anytime they are failing they turn to the only tactic they remain true to: bullying.

My refusal to respond to their attack only increased their desperation. Because lets face it, one thing I’ve always been consistent with is my passion. That passion can just as easily work against me as for me. They have been able to provoke me several times in the past but unlike them I’ve admitted my mistakes apologized and moved on. This community and these students are far more important than me giving into my desire to klunk their heads together.

Each day more people come forward and square off with our current board. It can no longer be said that this is all the result of an angry “housewife with a personal vendetta”. We have middle school parents and students able to articulate with controlled passion exactly what is wrong with our current school decisions. The school board’s ship of deception, arrogance and selfishness is sinking and there is no life-preserving in sight.

Stand Up Clark County and say no to childish temper tantrums and yes to change.


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.

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.

Blast From Past To Make You Smile & Be Encouraged

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on October 16, 2012 by Joan Graves

Decided we needed some theme songs as well as inspirational messages. So, lets all take a moment and remember our lives when this song came out. Don’t know about you but it makes me blush. lol Thank you all for standing up when there’s no easy way out. ENJOY

Clark County Students & Teachers Deserve The Improvements These Candidates Will Bring

Posted in Board of Education (General), In The News, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , on October 8, 2012 by Joan Graves



A school board run like a successful business. A board of education whose priority is a better education for all. School board members interacting with the community. Board meetings where the community is welcomed and encouraged to speak out. An educational system that gets better every year. A public school system that is held as a model for all others who wish to improve.

Do these things seem impossible to you? They shouldn’t. We can achieve these things with the right people on the board. Our current school board is nowhere near what it should be – what it has been. But as great as we’ve been in the past we can be better. We are the community. We are the parents. We are Clark County and we are standing up for more.

If you don’t know your district that’s okay. On election day just go to the polls and push the button for the candidate in the number 1 slot on the ballot. Stand Up Clark County intends to make Clark County Public Schools number 1. It starts with voting for the candidate in that slot.