Archive for KY

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.

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

 

Senator RJ Palmer Seeks Our Support

Posted in Ashley Ritchie, Beth Griffith, Board Members, Michael Kuduk, Michael McGowan, Political Scene, RJ Palmer, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , on August 30, 2013 by Joan Graves

Senate28Senator RJ Palmer is seeking the support of Stand Up Clark County. Palmer cites his bi-partisan efforts in improving Kentucky and his renewed “commitment to improving education” as reasons for our support.

In the beginning, Stand Up Clark County was dismissed as the unorganized and inconsequential work of only a few. Yet, just as history has done so many times and will no doubt continue to do, underestimating a group of citizens banded together to right wrongs can have serious repercussions. When Colonist, labeled as rebels and troublemakers, had their cries ignored they took control of themselves and the world for that matter, from England and have never returned it. Our fight, albeit, on much smaller scale has been no less significant.

Last November the people of Clark County screamed their need for change at the election poles. After nearly a decade on the board of education, Debbie Fatkin, widely known in the community, lost her seat to unknown resident Michael McGowan. Deanna Wolfe, who has powerful connections at WKYT also lost to an unknown, Ashley Ritchie. Though Beth Griffith was not fully supported by Stand Up Clark County we certainly did not oppose her because the seat she sought against Steve Graves would see change no matter the victor as BJ Swope was not seeking re-election.

People tend to take notice when a group of unknowns demonstrates the power and ability to evoke great change. Now, more than ever we must be diligent in who we support. We have set a precedence and we have a responsibility to the people of Clark County. The trust of the people will always be a top priority for us. We must do as we have always done, research, post facts and informed opinions.

Therefore, this post is to serve only as a notice of the support request from Senator Palmer not a political opinion. We need to generate conversation and share information. Watch for future posts regarding Senator Palmer as research on him takes place. Once all the information is, compiled Stand Up Clark County will then decide if Senator Palmer is a good fit for our focus, goals, and beliefs. So….. Stand Up Clark County and speak your thoughts and experiences about Senator RJ Palmer.

Death Threats, Rivals, Ghosts & The Way To Make It Right.

Posted in George Rogers Clark, Point of View, Schools, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2013 by Joan Graves

My last post, “Beyond Friday Night”, generated heated responses from people calling themselves Tony and Jessica. Their remarks indicate they are friends with GRC Head Football Coach Steve Collins. They defended Collins vehemently and I actually applaud them for standing up for their friend. The manner in which they do it however, is highly questionable.

Tony and Jessica went to excessive lengths to hide their identities. They set up a dummy email account, which both used to access the comments section of the blog. Their IP addresses indicate they are in the same network. Which means Jessica and Tony either is the same person or is closely connected.

If you have followed this blog or read the Lexington Herald-Leader, you are aware of death threats made in the past. What you may not know is that a few weeks ago I received a threat, which basically said for me to stop Stand up Clark County or die. I was not impressed. People against Stand Up Clark County have long tried to silence me by using disgusting, perverted, and threatening remarks. The only common denominator is that each time the attack came after a post about the football program.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am in absolutely no way saying that Coach Collins or his staff is responsible for death threats or verbal attacks. What I am saying is that it is the topic of Collins’ football program that triggers the venom. I have no idea if it’s a coach, fan, parent, player, cheerleader, or community member launching the assaults. What I do know is whoever it is they are extremely passionate about Collins’ football program.

From my point of view, this is what I see. Paul Columbia’s firing was not the fault of Coach Collins, though Collins and his staff like to use that as an excuse for their shortcomings. Collins took a job he knew was in drowning in controversy so none of this is a surprise to him. What is surprising to us, however, is that Collins has invested more in our rival Montgomery County than he ever has in the community of Clark County. He made the decision early on to place himself in opposition of the majority of the community. Little did he know the previous board of education would fall and the superintendent who hired him retire, leaving him at the mercy of the very people he has shunned.

One of the first things Collins did, as football coach was take business away from Clark County’s long time small business staple, South Main Grocery. He immediately ended the team’s tradition of having breakfast there. Many saw that move as self-serving because Collins failed to realize the importance of tradition in the midst of turmoil. Since then, Collins’s program has been embroiled in controversy surrounding the treatment of players.

Collins has failed to ever address the concerns or even as much as attempt to interact with the community. Instead, he opted to take money from our small businesses while investing in Montgomery County golf scrambles. Collins appears to be heavily involved in the community in which he lives but not in the community who pays his salary or in which the kids he interacts with live. If Collins does not produce well-rounded individuals, what concern is it of his? Clark County is a paycheck not an investment.

Collins’s divided mind has cost him greatly but us even more so. While he spent his time trying to defeat the ghost of Paul Columbia, his team logged one of the worst seasons on record. Now, rather than focus on the players and how to make them successful he has opted instead to spend his time and energy into making PR rounds for an Astro Turf. When what we really need is a leader.

Clark County takes pride in our heritage and sense of community. We are not like other counties. We still stand for “old fashioned values”. We do not want new flashy things that spend our money but produce nothing. We prefer to invest in people not things.

We do not want to oppose Coach Collins but we must protect our core values. We have an obligation to the future of our kids. Therefore, we must insist Coach Collins invest in Clark County, speak out against those creating turmoil and crime in his name and begin building a bridge that will improve the lives of all Clark Contains.

Stand Up Clark County for all we are, have been and will be.

Trying To Answer Your Questions On Today’s Fast Breaking Events

Posted in Board of Education (General), Herald-Leader, In The News, Lawsuit, National Stories, Winchester Sun with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2013 by Joan Graves
Downtown Winchester, KY

Downtown Winchester, KY (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There have been some important events today. I’m always amazed at how quickly information travels. As you all know, I am restricted from discussing specifics of the lawsuit filed against the Columbias and me. I can confirm that yes there have been new developments today but I can elaborate no further. However, be assured that the moment we have secured our victory you will hear about it first right here.

The middle school merger is getting some long overdue attention. In addition to the previous post regarding Herald-Leader coverage you can follow this link http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-971738 to my CNN iReport.

Speaking of media attention, I will be interviewed tomorrow by Casey Castle of the Winchester Sun. I know many of you have been frustrated with the Sun coverage which is why I think it’s important you know about the interview. I have been very pleased with recent conversations with Mr. Castle and am thrilled he has taken on the endeavor of writing an in-depth report of the entire school issue.

I know many of you want answers and you will have them as soon as I am able to release them to you. Until then be pleased with the changes your commitment has brought about and look forward to the fantastic days ahead.

Stand Up Clark County and stay tuned.

Weather Decisions Can Mean Life Or Death For Students

Posted in Board of Education (General), Point of View with tags , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Joan Graves

I am a trained weather spotter and always monitor the sky anytime there is a threat of severe weather.  I report to the National Weather Service in Louisville about conditions as they unfold and they pass the information to the general public.

During the spring tornadoes can be seen in early morning hours but a tornado in January is concealed because the sun isn’t up. Add to that, a rain wrapped and we have the makings for potential disaster. That was the case this morning.

When my ears began popping I knew the pressure had changed and the possibility of a tornado was high. I opened my front door I saw the rain that was falling nearly horizontal at that point, start twisting and swirling into a perfect funnel form. I immediatel beat on my neighbors door to warn them but despite knowing what danger to look for,  I still had seen it. People tend to look and see only rain not considering there is danger hiding on the other side of that rain. In more ways than one, we all should be acutely aware that just because we don’t see a threat doesn’t mean its not there.

Apparently, this illusion of safety extended to our school leadership. But that illusion is not an excuse because we’ve known the storm was coming for days. It even made national news. We also knew that the path of the storm was headed straight for us and would hit at the exact time small kids on wet, dangerous county roads would be boarding busses. It was a fast moving storm and an hour delay would’ve been sufficient. Decisions made by school leaders can save or risk lives and sometimes it’s up others to determine if they will obey the decision or not.

On May 18, 1995 my nephews were waiting to exit a bus at Jessamine County High School when the principal made the decision to have drivers hold students on the buses rather than open their doors at the bell. A storm had been brewing since the middle of morning pick up and the principal could tell a different plan was needed for the 600 students in the parking lot. The storm created millions of dollars in damage to the school district. But because a principal made a decision no students were walking the halls of the school when the wall collapsed. Had those students been in the school rather than on the buses there would have been more than 26 injured and would’ve likely resulted in fatalities. Those kids now have an exciting tale to relay to their own kids thanks to the decision of one man.

As parents it is first our responsibility to make choices about our kids attending school. No parent should ever put a child on a bus if they have questions or misgivings about safety. But the district equally shares that responsibility, especially for students whose parents aren’t home when they get on the bus.

At 5 a.m. we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the fast moving storm was barreling down on us at the same time elementary students would be boarding buses. There was no guess work here. Over the last few years Clark County has developed a chronic lack of weather safety and parents are furious. Parents feel children are being put at risk by district decisions.

Making today’s circumstances worse are rumors that Superintendent Elaine Farris didn’t show up at work today. Many are wondering if that’s because she didn’t want to come out in the weather or if she is hiding, unwilling to take responsibility for the choice to not delay school. I have no idea where Elaine Farris is. But wherever she is, I hope she’s getting an apology and a better weather plan together.

Stand Up Clark County and refuse to accept decisions that shift in the wind.

 

A Field House, Verbal Attacks & IP Addresses – What’s Really Going On

Posted in Sports with tags , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2012 by Joan Graves

If you’ve been following the blog lately you know that I made a remark about Heather Penichet being in the field house. I knew the remark was a slam but felt it was justified. There’s a whole stage of drama that takes place behind the curtain of the blog that people don’t know about. These things combined with my previous dealings with Heather played a part in why I responded to her as I did. I’m not saying it’s right I’m just explaining why.

Immediately, after Heather made her last comment using her name, nasty messages began rolling in. It was a full on assault against me and even Steve at times. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the comments were coming from the same people. When I said that it was of course denied.

I am now receiving messages mocking me for removing comments. Because I removed negative comments from the blog and not positive ones they think its evidence of my guilt. The messages were extremely condescending and mocking. The poster was saying she’d be sure to spread around what a liar I am. It never occurred to them that perhaps I had a reason for removing the comments, such as getting their IP addresses. Yep, that’s right. I’ve got every single one of them.

It came as absolutely no surprise to find that it was indeed the same people. Heather made two remarks under her name but made others hiding behind the anonymous label. In one post she attempted to hide her identity by referring to herself as Ms. Penichet. Well, since Ms. Penichet doesn’t believe I have audio of our encounter at the field house I doubt she’ll believe I have her IP address. I don’t want there to be any doubt so here is part of one of her IP addresses: 98.65.232.XXX

On October 8, I received morning messages at 6:49 and 7:09. Afternoon and evening messages came at 12:50, 2:15, 8:29, 8:51, 8:54 and 9:29. That was fairly typical day of lies and insults and I’ve been dealing with them for months. This is what they do. They hurl insults and lies while hiding their identity in order to keep posting and give the illusion of many. They strike out of your sight because they know we will take the high road. Our willingness to play by the rules is their incentive to shred the rulebook.

This time I detoured the high road. The constant lies, insults and cover-ups can get exhausting. It’s tough to maintain the straight path when everything in you wants to give back twice as what you get. That is my struggle. To them if you don’t give immediately back when they dish it out they assume you’re a coward. And like a shark smelling blood they began circling.

I’m many things but afraid of a fight isn’t one of them. But I’ve got to reach a point where I know that I don’t have to be verbally aggressive to remain in the fight. I’m well aware that the quick wit some admire me for has a dark side. I can snap off a remark that cuts deep before my mind has even processed the emotion. When I read Tim’s comment about my remark to Heather it pricked my conscience. And I realize he is exactly right. The remark I made was beneath me. Thanks Tim for the firm but gentle reminder.

I’m guilty of getting frustrated to the point of madness. I’m guilty of saying things I shouldn’t. But I am absolutely not guilty of lying. Every word about Bledsoe is true and all the hiding behind fake comments to dispute it only strengthens our case. Innocence doesn’t require repeated posts by fictional people to back it up.

I’d love to be able to tell you that I won’t make any more mistakes but I think making that statement would be my first. As I tell my kids, a mistake isn’t bad unless you hide it, deny it or blame it on another. A mistake can be made beautiful when we own it, confess it and use it to improve our lives and the lives of others. That is exactly what I intend to do.

Stand Up Clark County for the ability to accept our mistakes and change for the better.

 

Keep Standing Up Clark County This Is Your Defining Moment

Posted in Encouragement, Point of View with tags , , , , , , , on August 30, 2012 by Joan Graves
Cover of "TGIF: Daily Workplace Inspirati...

Cover of TGIF: Daily Workplace Inspiration

I receive a brief email devotion each day from TGIF (Today God Is First). A prayer comes before the devotion and apparently are written by different individuals because sometimes they don’t seem to be on the same subject. None-the-less, they are each powerful on their own. But when the two connect, the message is twice as powerful. That was the case today. Considering all the problems we’ve had with our school system, superintendent and board of education, I had to share today’s message with you.

This community has spent nearly 9 months taking the high, very narrow road to change. We’ve battled many things along the way and each has made us stronger. We rolled past every refusal, lie, condescending attitude and threat. Rather than let those things slow us down we rolled them together, forced them behind us and allowed them to become rocket boosters that thrust us forward to a greater good. Each attack that intends to take us down only built us up. We are a community united.

Today, the devotion was on defining moments and I thought of all of you that have been in these educational trenches with me. It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of what this community is doing and the defining moments you all have made. You’ve risked much to gain more. Your efforts are not in vain. And your defining moment isn’t over yet. May God bless you all.

Today’s Prayer

Dear God, Thank you for being orderly and powerful and loving and understanding! I need your help. You know there are difficult people in this world. There always have been and always will be. Some people can be avoided. Some people I must see and deal with, so I need to know what to do. When they are so wrong and their sin and stupidity affects other people’s lives, but they do not want help nor do they listen to reason and good sense or even Christian counsel from others who have ‘been there,’ there really isn’t much I can do. So what I need to do is ask you to please intervene. Please help me to not react and do or say anything wrong. Please open the other person’s eyes, enlighten their mind, and speak to their heart. Draw that person (or those people) to you. Fill them with spiritual wisdom, increase their knowledge and maturity, and break down the strongholds that keep them from doing what is right and following your will. Please help. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, amen.
Defining Moments
TGIF Today God Is First Volume 1, by Os Hillman
08-30-2012
“As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.”Acts 9:3For Moses, it was the burning bush.

For Peter, it was walking on water.

For Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, it was walking through the burning furnace untouched.

For Paul, it was being blinded and spoken to by Jesus on the Damascus road. For Daniel, it was deliverance from the lions’ den.

For Joshua, it was parting the Jordan River and crossing into the Promised Land.

There have been many defining moments in the lives of human beings that changed their lives forever. These defining moments often set the course for the balance of their lives.

We could go on and on. Each of these servants had years of preparation leading up to their defining moment. These moments forced the servants to be involved in something beyond their human experiences. It took them outside their own paradigms of life. God had to move them outside their own boxes. And when He did, their lives were never the same.

You may be in one of three stages of life: You may not have had your “defining moment” yet – God may be preparing you with many important life experiences. You may have had your defining moment and you are living out your call. Or, you may be toward the end of your journey and you have already experienced what I speak of. We are all called to a relationship with God; and we are all called vocationally, which is often ushered in by a defining moment. And there can be more than one defining moment, each pointing you down a path that God foreordained from the foundation of the world. The secret of a great life is often a man’s ability to discern the defining moments given to him, understanding them, and learning to walk in the path that leads him to his ultimate destination.

Once you have had a defining moment, you are never the same. Pray that you have eyes to see and ears to hear when your Master brings a defining moment into your life.