Wednesday, June 29, 2011

School News from Around Kentucky

Former teacher will go to prison:  A fromer Bullitt County teacher of the year will serve the next three years in prison....Timothy Lands was sentenced Thursday by Bullitt Circuit Judge Rodney Burress to serve the next three years in prison on the charge of sexual abuse. He will also be on the sex offender registry for the next 20 years. Attorney Brian Butler requested probation for his client; however, Burress agreed with prosecutor Michael Mann and the victim’s mother and denied that request. The mother said granting probation would be a “slap on the wrist” and would send the wrong message about teachers and students. “Tim Lands let us all down,” said the mother. “I wish her (daughter’s) sentence was only three years.” She explained that the family accepted the plea agreement for three years to spare the teenager the agony of going through a trial. She did oppose any probation as Lands robbed her daughter of her high school experience. It also robbed the family. Instead of sharing experiences such as the first boyfriend, the senior prom and graduation, she said her daughter had to move out of state and receive her GED. She couldn’t face the pressure or the shame of staying at her own high school. (Pioneer News by way of KSBA)

Education, health chiefs urge boards to adopt 100% tobacco-free policies everywhere tied to K-12:  Kentucky’s commissioners of education and public health are calling on all 174 local boards of education to implement policies completely banning the use of any tobacco products on school property, in district vehicles and at school-sponsored events by anyone of any age. In a June 16 letter to the state’s school superintendents, Education Commissioner Terry Holliday and Public Health Commissioner William Hacker urged them “to pass and implement this 100% TFS (Tobacco-Free School) policy as a district policy. It’s the right thing to do for the health of your schools and communities.” (KSBA)

New education group starts by putting focus on No Child Left Behind's effects on Ky.:  A new group with the goal of bolstering education in Kentucky used its first meeting to emphasize how changes in the federal No Child Left Behind law might affect Kentucky. The group, calling itself “Kentucky Leads the Nation,” is made up of 10 state Senators, including Republican Senate President David Williams, 10 state representatives, school district superintendents, teacher union representatives and education think tanks, with an early goal of discussing and setting Kentucky’s education priorities. (CN/2)

Congress too split to revise No Child Left Behind, Rep. John Yarmuth says:  Saying that Congress it too dysfunctional to come to an agreement, U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth said Monday he doubts the federal No Child Left Behind law will be revamped anytime soon. Speaking at the “Kentucky Leads the Nation” roundtable in Shelby County, where educators and policy makers are working to help the state’s school districts navigate federal education law and challenges, Yarmuth said he can’t imagine the Republicans and Democrats coming together on the issue this close to a presidential election. That means it is likely that Kentucky education officials will be relying on the federal Department of Education to grant a waiver if they don’t want to continue offering both state and federal proficiency tests to students. (C-J)

KDE Launches New Toolkit to Improve Advising:  A new advising toolkit will help districts keep students in school, better prepare them for postsecondary options and increase the number of students that are college/career ready. The toolkit, Your Future Ahead, is available to all school districts free of charge. It was developed by staff at the Kentucky Department of Education. “College and career advising is a vital component of KDE’s persistence to graduation strategy and college- and career-readiness plan,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. The advising toolkit is designed to help middle and high schools develop and improve their mentoring and advising programs. (KDE)

Woodford schools lax in minority hiring, promotion:  Civil rights activist Malcolm X cautioned, "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything." It is time for some minority citizens of Woodford County to embrace this sentiment and demand answers from the Woodford County Board of Education about its incredibly low minority employment rate. African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian employees are primarily custodial or cafeteria workers, bus drivers or para-professionals. In the past 30 years, there have only been a handful of minority administrators, teachers and head coaches. Minority hiring for the system is four percent, compared to the county's 15.0 percent minority population, according to the U.S. Census. This disparity hurts Woodford County by making it a less appealing place to live and undermines efforts to prepare children for an increasingly diverse world. (Op Ed in H-L)

Bath County School Board chairman faces possible removal: The state Office of Education Accountability has asked the Kentucky Department of Education to consider removing the chairman of the Bath County School Board because of several issues, including alleged violations of the state Open Meetings Law. A decision is unlikely until August. Meanwhile, in a related matter, Bath County Schools Superintendent Nancy Hutchinson has sued the Bath County Board of Education, seeking to overturn a board vote this spring to essentially terminate Hutchinson's contract, effective Thursday. A hearing in that case is scheduled for Thursday morning in Bath Circuit Court. Both developments are symptoms of ongoing disputes between Hutchinson and some board members dating back a number of years. The latest round came earlier this month, when the education accountability office — which investigates education complaints — issued a report detailing several findings of fact against board chairman Bill Boyd, including alleged violations of the state Open Meetings Law. The statute essentially prohibits doing public business in secret. (H-L)

Farris is right leader for our schools:  If there was any doubt about what kind of education leader Elaine Farris is, the fact that she was a recent finalist for superintendent of the state’s second largest school district should be reassuring. The only one of the final three I don’t know is Tom Shelton, the Daviess County superintendent the Fayette County board chose to succeed longtime leader Stu Silberman. But having observed Lu Young, Jessamine County’s superintendent, and Farris, who is in her second year as Clark’s leader, I know that either of these women also would have been an excellent choice. In the case of Farris, it’s hard to imagine a candidate having better credentials for the position. (Winchester Sun)

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