Audit: Some JCPS employees 'motivated' to not report restraints

Audit: Some JCPS employees 'motivated' to not report restraints
Published: May. 11, 2016 at 1:35 AM EDT|Updated: May. 11, 2016 at 4:31 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - An independent audit report found that the Jefferson County Public Schools under reported seclusions and restraints to the state system since 2013.

The audit also discovered that some of seclusions and restraints were not reported because of the overall culture within the Jefferson County Public School system. According to the audit conducted by Dean Dorton some administrators and employees were "motivates to not report all seclusion and restrain incidents to Infinite Campus."

The "culture of secrecy" and "code of silence" was concerning to board member Lisa Wilner and resulted in several other board members questioning the accuracy of the data they get from Dr. Donna Hargens, the JCPS Superintendent.

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"It makes me very uncomfortable to sit on a board where I question the data I am given. I am glad this came to light," board member Steph Horne said, "and it makes me question your leadership Dr. Hargens."

Hargens said she learned of the data discrepancies in March 2016 and made the Kentucky Department of Education aware as soon as she was.

"The moment it was brought to my attention we dealt with it swiftly," Hargens said. "This is a report that will cause improvement. I embrace this report."

The audit reports that JCPS was using their own internal system to track the number of seclusions and restraints. On Infinite Campus (the state system), the number of restraints reported was 174 but the actual number was closer to 4,403 for 2013-2014.

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Auditor Jim Tencza said there is a nationwide trend to not report issues that make a school system look bad, but Hargens insisted that is not the message she sends to employees about reporting seclusions and restraints.

"There's no lack of clarity from me," Dr. Hargens said.

Board member Chris Brady said he also shares concern about the climate and culture mentioned in the report.

"I have concern about information in report," Brady said. "We have our own staff who can't talk to staff because of fear of retribution-that's a huge thing. We have to encourage open reporting and condemn those who report because of negative behavior. We have to encourage open reporting.  How do we address the culture?"

The auditor did report that the audit did not find any mistreatment of JCPS students. The final report will be available in July.

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