Questions arise from proposed JCPS state takeover

Published: May. 1, 2018 at 10:14 PM EDT|Updated: May. 1, 2018 at 11:10 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Kentucky Board of Education made their recommendation for the state to take over Jefferson County Public Schools.

Following the release of an audit of JCPS that took the board 14-months to compile, the interim Commissioner of Education, Dr. Wayne Lewis, wrote he supports a state takeover.

Three people on the board are strong proponents for charter schools. Now parents wonder why a state takeover was the first option.

"You just cannot help but think that this is a back door way to get charter schools into JCPS," Karin Bennett said.

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Bennett serves on the PTA at the Academy at Shawnee. Her authority is advisory since the state took away that school's Site-Based Decision Making (SBDM) Council in 2010. For her, the Board of Education's recommendation is familiar.

"The state takeover is losing your SBDM board times 1,000," Bennett said.

Bennett believes the state takeover was made without her children's best interest in mind.

"[Bevin] you have stacked 11 people on a board that are all prominently pro-charter school," Bennett said.

The 16-page recommendation released does not mention charter schools. It does cite the assigning of students to magnet schools and financial accountability as reasons for the takeover.

>> READ: Interim commissioner Lewis outlines JCPS Management Audit Findings

"Student and parents make the best educational decisions for the kind of educations their child can get," Joel Adams, with Kentucky Public Charter Schools Association, said. "I think charter schools bring more of that."

Measures supporting charter schools passed in the 2017 legislative session.

"Charter schools are coming one way or another and I don't think this has anything to do with the takeover," Adams said.

Adam acknowledged the law does allow for conversion of schools, but it requires a petitioning process.

"They have complete control and they can make any decision," Chris Harmer, with Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, said.

Harmer is suspicious of what the state has not included in their recommendation. Harmer said the voice of parents would be lost because elected school board members would no longer represent them.

>> More JCPS news on

The school board members would play in an advisory role in the state takeover. But parents like Bennett said they know what it is like to be in an advisory role.

"I think we all don't understand what happens until we don't have it," Bennett said.

Lewis said he would keep JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio in an advisory role during the takeover, as well.

JCPS is expected to appeal the recommendation.

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