Kentucky pastor group calls JCTA a 'racist institution'

Pastor Jerry Stephenson (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Pastor Jerry Stephenson (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Updated: May. 8, 2018 at 11:49 PM EDT
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Brent McKim (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Brent McKim (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Takeover talk turned to teacher contracts at Tuesday's Jefferson County Public Schools Board meeting.

The Kentucky Pastors in Action Coalition (KPAC) spoke during public comment and personally attacked the head of the teachers union, JCTA, and blamed the current teacher contract for failing schools.

KPAC Operating Officer Pastor Jerry Stephenson spoke on behalf of the group.

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"It is that document that we believe is the greatest hindrance to our children of color," Stephenson said of the collective bargaining agreement between JCPS and the teacher's union.

Stephenson said the contract hurts black students by tying the hands of administrators who want to move the most experienced teachers into low performing schools.

He called JCTA a "racist institution" and referred to union president Brent McKim as "one of the biggest impediments to the academic achievement of African-American students."

"There's been a lot of personal attacks on teachers lately, I guess we are dealing with another one," McKim said.

McKim said he was troubled by the accusations.

"Of course that's ridiculous," McKim said. "We are really proud of what the JCTA does to promote equity in our district."

He said there are already incentives in the contract for teachers to go to low performing schools.

"I don't think that that particular provision is utilized as much as it could be by the school district, but the union doesn't control that," McKim said. "The contract isn't a barrier. There might be funding barriers -- the state has cut back on our funding year after year and that's been a challenge -- but it's certainly not a contract that's a barrier."

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McKim was at the meeting to speak in favor of the district's new racial equity policy, which passed unanimously.

The policy is aimed at eliminating racial disparities. Plans include establishing a special council to assist the district and hold them accountable for ensuring diversity and equality.

JCTA is holding a public forum on Thursday to talk about the possible state takeover. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at King Solomon Baptist Church.

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