Archive for Judy Hicks

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.
IF WE GOTTA START SOMEWHERE WHY NOT HERE? IF WE GOTTA START SOMETIME WHY NOT NOW?
Stand Up Clark County & be that City on our Knees. A city willing to start here and now.

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.

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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!

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

Why The Number One Has More Power Than One Board Member

Posted in Board of Education (General), Deanna Wolfe, Debbie Fatkin, Dr. Michael Kuduk, Elaine Farris, Judy Hicks, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by Joan Graves

The common theme of the community is a desperate cry for change. People want more from the board of education and they deserve it. Parents want to know their opinions matter. Teachers want to work without fear and students need to know their best educational interest is more important than political games. So, what do we do? Who do we believe?

I keep asking myself how we got here. I know the obvious answer is poor leadership but how did the leadership get placed? How have less than stellar board members been able to retain their seats on this sinking ship for so many years?  I think the most obvious answer is that most of us just don’t want to be a part of the board. The pay is a joke and the headaches many.

Once a board member is seated they tend to retain the position until trouble rears its ugly head. Historically, it has been that as long as there are no huge news making negative events no one runs against current board members. BJ Swope’s position is case in point. He was tapped to run by a citizen’s group formed long before Stand Up Clark County. That group vehemently opposed the building of a new high school. At that time, our board of education was making news for their conduct which resulted in a near brawl on more than one occasion. The goal was to get former board member Minnie Spangler out and they succeeded. But the victory was short lived.

Replacing only one board member doesn’t change anything. A single board member has no power. Even 2 board members can’t accomplish much.  It takes at least 3 board members with common goals and ideas to bring about change.

It’s a unique time in Clark County because we have exactly that. Ashley Ritchie, Michael McGowan and Steve Graves are all like-minded. They are not clones. With their varying personalities and personal experiences combined with their common ideology and goals they will have the majority vote and represent equally our ever changing community. If you add to that the voting history of Dr. Michael Kuduk you get a perfect storm for change. That puts 4 out of 5 board members making decisions with a new focus on our schools. Judy Hicks’ votes, if not in the best interest of our community, will amount to nothing. Because one member has no power.

In the draw of  ballot positions I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Ashley Ritchie, Michael McGowan and Steve Graves all got the number 1 ballot slot. Many people have no idea what district they are in but to get change they really don’t need to. If you live in a district that has a board member up for election on November 6 you will be able to cast a vote. If not, the voting machine won’t allow you to vote in the board race. If you can vote all you need to do is simply, push the first name on the school board ballot and you will send change on it’s way to Clark County Schools. Spread the word to everyone you know that if we want our schools to be number one all we have to do is push it.

Stand Up Clark County for the perfect storm.

 

 

 

Stand Up Clark County Takes The Case To CNN

Posted in In The News, National Stories, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by Joan Graves

Sun’s Report on Possible Tape Tampering

Bob Flynn’s report on the possible tape tampering that was in today’s Winchester Sun was excellent. I posted it to CNN’s iReport.  We can take our battle national by following the link above, “Sun’s Report on Possible Tape Tampering”. That will connect you to the sight. At the end of the article you will be asked about your thoughts on the article. If enough people click “This belongs on CNN” – BAM – we’re national news.

Stand Up Clark County and show all of America how much we love our kids, teachers and community.

Felony Charges For School Board? Winchester Sun’s Bob Flynn Explains

Posted in Board Meetings, Documents, In The News, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2012 by Joan Graves

Activist: District changed Video

Board attorney denies meeting footage altered

By Bob Flynn The Winchester Sun

 

Hostilities between a local activist and the Clark County Board of Education escalated recently when Joan Graves accused the school district of tampering with a recording of one of its meetings and suggested employees had committed a felony in doing so.

Graves’ accusations brought a strong denial from both the Board and its attorney.

Shortly after the Board’s June 19 meeting, Graves, spokesperson for Stand UP Clark County, sent a letter to Board members and the school district complaining about the quality and content of a video of the meeting that was later uploaded on the district’s website.

The school district posts videos following each meeting, and Graves said she watches them each month. When she tried to watch the June video, there were problems with the sound on part of the recording, and there were parts that were blank, leading her to think it had been altered in some way.

“When they first put them up, there was a series of five tapes. One didn’t play at all, another one just went blank. But the first thing I noticed when people started contacting me was the time on the tapes. They weren’t right,” Graves said. “The running times from one tape to the other didn’t match up. There was a lag time of several minutes between tapes when they should have been running together. And there was no video at all of the end of the meeting when they read the superintendent’s evaluation. Clearly, the tape was altered.”

Her letter, titled “Public Record Tampering,” asked Board members to correct the problems with the video and pointed out that the recordings were protected from tampering by Kentucky law.

It reads:

“The videoing of the board meeting is done with equipment purchased with public money. It is a recording of a public event. Therefore, it falls under the protection of the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives. Kentucky law states that tampering with a public record is a Class D felony. According to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission, punishment for being found guilty of a Class D felony is 1-5 years of imprisonment; fines of $1,000 to $10,000, or double the gain from the commission of the offense up to $20,000 for corporations. Despite our differences, there is not a single one of you I would want to see in jail. Please do not take it to that level. You need to correct this wrong and put online a video the public can view. In the future, make certain that the camera is always on when the board is in open session and that no one tampers with it.”

Several days after receiving the letter, Board Chairwoman Judy Hicks and Board attorney Henry Rosenthal responded by mail to Graves’ complaint saying that while there were technical issues with the video equipment during the June 19 meeting, the video had not intentionally been altered.

Hicks’ letter stated that the Board is not required to video or livestream the Board meetings; it is done so as a service to the community “as a method of providing transparency in our decisions.”

Her letter also stated, “The board room where the meetings take place is not a professional recording studio, and the videotaping equipment is considerably less expensive than that used in professional studios. While the board could approve the purchase of more expensive video recording equipment, we prefer to continue the priority of using our limited equipment funding in the classrooms of the schools in the district. We apologize for the equipment malfunction that was unforseen and unintentional.”

Rosenthal’s letter explained when the technical difficulties were discovered by school district employees and said the allegations of tampering were baseless. It also reiterated that the district is not required to video the meetings and could discontinue the video posting.

“A technical issue was experienced at the start of the meeting and the technology employee attempted, without success, to determine the problem during the meeting of June 19-20, 2012. The actual problem was discovered during normal working hours on June 20 and the recording has been improved as much as reasonably possible. Accusations of ‘Public Record Tampering’ are without merit,” Rosenthal’s letter stated.

“From time to time, other technical problems beyond the control of employees may occur. Quite, frankly, it is unfair to subject an employee to such accusations absent any basis in fact. Such apparent baseless allegations of tampering may have a stifling effect on future broadcast recordings of meetings. As a matter of law, such broadcasts and recordings are not required. In addition, the Board of Education could establish policies determining what portions of the public meeting can and will be broadcasts and recordings. Be that as it may, the Board of Education initiated in good faith the broadcast and recording of its meetings and, I assume, will continue to do so in the future.”

Graves said that while she wasn’t surprised by the school district’s explanation about the video, she wasn’t satisfied with it and she planned to pursue the matter further. She also warned that it wasn’t a good idea for the Board to discontinue posting the videos.

“I knew this was going to be their response. It was exactly what I thought I would get from them. But to respond with a threat not to do the broadcasting would be a very bad choice for them. No, they don’t have to do them. But it is a good community tool, and if they choose to shut that down just because they can’t get it right, they are really going to have some irate community members on their hands,” Graves said. “I’m not through with this. I am going to request an audiotape of the meeting, and I am going to go to central office to view the tape, then I need to get back in touch with Jerry Carlton at the Library and Archives to see if I can get access through open records or whatever, to their uploads to Ustream.”

When contacted by the Sun this week, Carlton said if Graves wasn’t happy with the school district’s response and wanted to pursue the issue further, she could, but it would have to be done through the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office.

“Our office has no standing as far as bringing suit on anything like this. If anyone wants to do that they need to appeal to the attorney general’s office, and it would be up to them to do something,” Carlton said. “On things like this it’s simple. You have to prove that there was criminal intent on tampering with the public document, in this case the video. But proving criminal intent is a hard thing to do. I’ve seen time and again that appeals go to the AG’s office alleging tampering, and nine times out of 10, the AG’s office will come back and say, ‘If they don’t have it, we can’t really do much about it.’ That’s what it boils down to.”

Graves said that she would continue to look at her options concerning the video and would craft a response to Rosenthal’s letter.

She has approached the School Board several times in recent months with other problems she feels need addressing in the district. And though she hasn’t always been successful in her attempts to engage the Board in dialog about those concerns, Graves said, she and the group will continue to closely monitor the Board and the school district.

“One of the reasons I did this was I wanted them to know that we are watching them, and we’re not going to let anything pass,” Graves said. “We are moving toward a point to where something is going to have to give, and it’s not going to be me. The Board is going to have to reach a point where they are going to have to say they are going to do something and change things they are doing or take their chances in November. I wouldn’t advise the latter. But that is their choice.”

Contact Bob Flynn at bflynn@winchestersun.com.

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.