EPSB finds probable cause to fully investigate allegations
Today Kentucky's Education Professional Standards Board met in closed session to undertake a probable cause review in the case of Fayette County Schools Special Education Director Kathy Dykes.
In accordance with state law, Dykes had been reported to EPSB by Fayette County Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton following reports from WLEX TV and Kentucky School News and Commentary alleging professional misconduct.
EPSB Director of Legal Services Alicia Sneed confirmed to KSN&C that the standards board also heard complaints from an undisclosed number of parents of special needs children from Fayette County (and perhaps Lincoln County, Dykes's former district).
At this point, other than confirming that Dykes' "case is still pending," Sneed is precluded from providing any further information. We can report is that the case was not dismissed. Dykes was not admonished at this time.
The lack of conclusive action from today's probable cause review means that EPSB will now "fully investigate" the complaints. Whenever a hearing occurs in the matter, it is the respondent (Dykes) who gets to request whether it is a public or private matter.
Once the EPSB issues a final order in the matter, the entire file is subject to open records and may be released even if there is an appeal to Franklin Circuit Court.
In May, WLEX reported that parents raised serious ethical questions about how FCPS Special Ed administrators conducted business when Dykes posted pictures on her Facebook page showing her in Las Vegas in 2009 at a casino during her tax funded trip for a School Attorneys Conference. Former special education administrator Mike Muncy told WLEX that he and Dykes skipped part of the conference to take a side trip to the Grand Canyon. Several embarrassing website posts and emails from special education department staff further compounded the impression of unprofessional, and perhaps illegal behavior. As WLEX reported,
In 2009, Scholastic Incorporated, a book company the school district does lots of business with, invited administrators to a conference in Nashville, where Scholastic Inc. was footing all hotel and registration costs, including the bar bill.KSN&C reported that in four due process hearings, Dykes failed to divulge a personal relationship with the hearing officer, as required. The conflict of interest harmed four special education cases by denying parents their legal rights to due process.
Special Ed administrator Rachel Baker emailed her boss Kathy Dykes stating the following: "Ben (scholastic rep) has us at an open bar. How much more stimulus money do we need to spend? Your reply to this email is authorization:)"
Dykes responds: "I want to know if you all drank enough to equal the amount of money we have spent -- somewhere around $500,000. Hope you are being wined and dined:) smiley face."
Baker: "He is taking us out to a honky tonk for the night and we intend to invest. You guys would have a blast... poor Ben (scholastic rep) :)"
They invested alright. More than $494,000 before the trip, and the business relationship continues today with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent with the company.
Under KRS 161.120 the Education Professional Standards Board may revoke, suspend, or …issue a written reprimand or admonishment; or any combination of those actions… any certificate or license” for a host of reasons outlined in the law. These include, committing any act that constitutes fraudulent, corrupt, dishonest, or immoral conduct; demonstrating willful or careless disregard for the health, welfare, or safety of others; violating any state statute relating to schools; violating the professional code of ethics; or violating any administrative regulation promulgated by the Education Professional Standards Board or the Kentucky Board of Education.