Confidential sources inside the Fayette County Schools Transportation Department have told KSN&C that they sent a letter to Superintendent Tom Shelton and all Fayette County Board of Education members alleging fraud on the part of department leadership. KSN&C has obtained a copy of the letter. These employees say that they have been in communication with some board members previously and claim that they can show "numerous issues of unfair treatment of employees all around by [Transportation Director] John Kiser and his outdated style of leadership."
The letter sent by email February 17th from an account belonging to jjpeterson2012@gmailcom thanks Shelton for visiting transportation employees (apparently a rare event for a Fayette County superintendent), describes an "unpleasant work environment," and accuses the department of fraud, citing two examples.
After thanking Shelton for his visits to Liberty Road and Miles Point and stating that "for the most part, we feel as though Fayette County Public Schools is a good place to work," the sources identify "problems with some aspects" of FCPS that left unaddressed "contribute to morale issues" and impact the working environment.
Part of that working environment apparently includes the anonymous employees' fear that if they spoke their concerns out loud that they would be retaliated against by Kiser or district COO Mary Browning Wright. "We don't feel as though our concerns will be fully investigated or listened to" but that [Browning] "will protect him, or try and cover up his actions."
Two very specific examples of alleged "fraud" were "just a scratch on the surface." Both seem to relate to a feeling on the part of the employees that there is an uneven treatment of favored versus unfavored employees.
The first concerns a Miles Point shop employee named Bruce who, according to the letter, hasn't worked for several years but draws a $30,000 salary. "He punches in every day and does not move from his seat unless he is taking lunch, going to the bathroom, or going to the vending machine...Bruce is a mechanic assistant, but he does nothing to assist any of the mechanics...To be quite honest, we view this as fraud." They complain that no one else is allowed to sit around and do nothing because they would be fired. Yet it "occurs every day with the full knowledge of the shop supervisor" Frank Shaffer and Kiser. "If this is excusable, please tell us. We would like the same privileges," they wrote.
The second concern regards Rick the husband of "our department's payroll person," a Liberty Road vehicle assistant who complained of arthritis and no longer works in the shop, but was placed in an unadvertised desk job making "well over $30,000. They say that he is allowed to drive his wife to Miles Point and punch in there "under the pretext that he is delivering mail" despite the fact that another employee already does that task every day around noon. This apparently violates some department rule.
"If you don't believe that it is going on please come to the bus garage and see it with your own eyes...If you ask John or Frank, if this is happening they will cover it up and give you an answer that hides it."
Last September Kiser and three other administrators, along with former Superintendent Stu Silberman and the board were sued by a driver claiming retaliation,violation of the whistleblower statute, breach of contract, constructive discharge, intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress and arbitrary and capricious acts in violation of the Kentucky Constitution.
The suit was only one in a long list of complaints that have surfaced from the transportation department over the past year. KSN&C had heard of numerous grievances that die in the department without being forwarded up the chain of command. Instead of trying to resolve issues according to policy, the district tried to prevent former FCPS attorney Brenda Allen from representing bus drivers. Cases of overt disrespect of school district personnel were widely alleged. The case is pending in Judge Kim Bunnell's Fayette County District court.
Incoming FCPS Superintendent Tom Shelton heard about complaints involving the transportation department and agreed to look into the situation. But that plan was derailed, one assumes, by Allen's suit. Surely the attorneys defending the district did not want Shelton gathering discoverable information that could potentially refute what they were planning to present in court.
On Sunday March 4th, Shelton confirmed to KSN&C that he responded to the employees with the following message:
Thank you for sharing these concerns! I am well aware of these issues in Transportation and had hoped to conduct a full review of our transportation department by this point. Unfortunately, at the advice of our attorneys, I could not proceed with this investigation because of current litigation involving this department. You can be assured that the Board is also aware of the concerns and has the expectation that we will deal with these issues appropriately. The Board is precluded by law from dealing with personnel issues but I plan to keep them aware of our plans to deal with your concerns. Thanks again for sharing your concerns and you can be assured I am developing a plan to deal with these issues.
Tom Shelton, PhDSuperintendentFayette County Public Schools