Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Jefferson County’s Public Schools warned: Do reforms right

In an April 1, 2011 story that, while factual, may be a horrible April Fools joke on the students in Jefferson County, the Courier-Journal reports:

“JCPS restaffing at 3 failing schools draws renewed warning from Kentucky education chief.”

Very simply, the Kentucky Commissioner of Education is warning the Jefferson County Schools that the way they have restaffed their Persistently Low-Achieving Schools may violate state law and federal requirements.

And, now, the district has done this more than once, meaning the old “we didn’t’ understand” excuse no longer works.

The Commissioner is threatening to withhold millions of dollars if the district does not clean up its act.

This is the latest in a string of charges of impropriety in the operation of the “Restaffing Option” under House Bill 176 from the 2010 Regular Legislative Session (HB-176). The new report adds to charges in a report from the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission’s Office of Education Accountability (OEA) approved in December that the district violated provisions in HB-176 that prevent union involvement in the restaffing program (find the approval draft of that OEA report here – the final version has not been released).

The OEA’s report charges that a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was cut between the union and the school district that allowed the union to interfere with the restaffing program. On page 40 of its report, the OEA charges:

“While the statute clearly stipulates that ‘professionally negotiated contracts by a local board of education shall not take precedence over the requirements’ associated with the option selected, JCPS and JCTA entered into an MOA as to how the restaffing would take place.”

Thus, both the Legislative Research Commission and the Kentucky Department of Education now are charging that Louisville’s school system is in violation of state and federal laws and regulations concerning operations in the Persistently Low-Achieving Schools.

One thing is certain. The OEA report shows that a substantial number of the teachers eventually placed in the district’s low-achieving schools are highly inexperienced, with a notable number in their very first year as teachers. That is definitely not in the best interests of students in those schools.

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