Archive for school board

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!


The Back Pack Attack

Posted in Point of View with tags , , , , , , on January 5, 2013 by Joan Graves


There’s a lot of controversy over the school district’s “new” backpack rule. Yet, it isn’t new at all.  The regulation has been in place for years. What’s new is the sudden obsession of enforcing of it.  What is angering parents is being forced to adhere to a rule that has previously been treated as optional.

I applaud the district’s attention to safety, but the cancer of school violence requires more than the band-aid of a mesh backpack.  Aside from Paducah shooter Scott Pennington, school killers generally don’t conceal weapons in backpacks. They disguise them as art projects, conceal them under trench coats, stuff them in their pants or dispense with secrecy all together and come in with guns blazing.

A mesh backpack rule that isn’t applied to all school bags, including those in athletics, can create more problems than it solves. School shooters may not use their backpacks to hide weapons but they do use athletes as justification for murder. Almost without fail, school violence erupts from bullying or feelings of inferiority that stem from thoughts that athletes get preferential treatment by the school. Such was the case at Columbine when murderers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold singled-out athletes for assassination.

Allowing athletic bags to remain canvas sends the message that athletes are trusted to carry concealing bags while others are not.  Not to mention the fact that athletic bags are larger and could more readily hide weapons.  Additionally, the majority of school attacks are carried out with rifles.  So, what would hide a rifle better, a backpack or bag for baseball bats?  Our focus should be less on what kids carry in their backpacks and more of what they carry in their hearts and minds.

Well-adjusted kids have firm boundaries not ever-shifting ones. Kids don’t want rules that apply to some but not all. It is absolutely imperative that we say what we mean and mean what we say. All the rules in the world will never replace involved parents and school employees committed to leading by example. Our best defense against school violence will always be diligent parenting and school leadership that is as transparent as the backpacks they require.

Stand Up Clark County and be transparent.

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.


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.

Quote of the Day

Posted in Board of Education (General), Point of View, School Board Election 2012 with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2012 by Joan Graves

From now through election day on November 6 I’ll be posting a quote each day that will encourage and inspire us as we continue in the final phases of this long fought battle.

Oct. 23

“Delay is preferable to error.”

Thomas Jefferson

Photo taken by User:Malcanthet at FDR's home/m...

Photo taken by User:Malcanthet at FDR’s home/museum in Hyde Park. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Oct. 21

“He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”

Harold Wilson

Oct. 20

“He who endeavors to serve, to benefit, and improve the world, is like a swimmer, who struggles against a rapid current, in a river lashed into angry waves by the winds. Often they roar over his head, often they beat him back and baffle him. Most men yield to the stress of the current… Only here and there the stout, strong heart and vigorous arms struggle on toward ultimate success.”

Albert Pike

Oct. 19

“It shall be done for you as you have believed.”

Matthew 8:13

Oct. 18

“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously . This is how character is built.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

Oct. 17

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.”

Diogenes Laetius

Oct. 16

“The strength of the United States  is not the gold at Fort Knox or the weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total of the education and the character of our people.”

Claiborn Pell

Oct. 15

Robert F. Kennedy, Cabinet Room, White House, ...

“Progress is a nice word. But change is its

motivator and change has its enemies”

Robert F Kennedy 

Oct. 14

   “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve       neither liberty nor safety”. 

Benjamin Franklin

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.


Your Voices Have Been Heard And Maybe Even Rated

Posted in Board of Education (General), In The News with tags , , on September 24, 2012 by Joan Graves

ImageI’m no computer wiz but there are a few things I get. One of them is the importance of Internet search engines.  When you Google a word, name or phrase not just anything will pop up. There’s a method to the madness of  results displayed. In a nutshell, it basically means that the first result displayed is the most popular. It is the website that most people go to when searching for whatever it is you entered.

I have the same name as the woman who rates movies for the Motion Picture Association of America. If you Google Joan Graves you will find a slew of returns regarding her not me. Obviously, rating every single movie that comes out is a high-profile position. Many, many things are written about her, by her and for her. My name generally pops up on about page 2 or 3. Not anymore!

Today when you Google “Joan Graves” Stand Up Clark County is the number 3 return! WOOT WOOT! That means that traffic being driven to this site has dramatically increased. As our numbers grow our strength is increased and the stronger we are the more people we reach. What you are doing and the changes you are seeking is being screamed across the cyber world.

Stand Up Clark County you are FINALLY being heard!

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. 

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