Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Kiser's Legacy of Litigation

When one retires there is a natural tendency for folks to look back on that career and reflect. The Herald-Leader reflected on the career of John Kiser today and found a legacy of lawsuits claiming that he harassed and discriminated against employees. Sad really.

I knew John Kiser as an effective school administrator. As Transportation Director the ex-military man took a job few wanted, and like Mussolini, he made the trains run on time - something I appreciated as a principal. When I called his office for assistance, I got it. When changes were needed, changes were made. But he bore other characteristics of the Italian leader as well.

Evidence suggests that John may also have been a bit class-conscious. The hourly workers under his direction claimed repeatedly that they were treated very differently - disrespected, harassed, and generally made to feel inferior. He was sued repeatedly. But he was defended - protected even - by the superintendent(s).

One imagines the departure of Superintendent Tom Shelton has caused several folks to reconsider their tenure with Fayette County. Lu Young and Kiser have announced their retirements. One might expect others to feel much more vulnerable now as well. Could the school system be in line for a spring cleaning? Will Mary Wright, Rodney Jackson, Kathy Dykes, Melodee Parker, and perhaps others, follow suit?

John Kiser, longtime transportation director 
for Fayette County schools, to retire Thursday

This from the Herald-Leader:
John Kiser, the longtime transportation director for the Fayette County Public Schools, is retiring.
Fayette Schools spokeswoman Lisa Deffendall confirmed Monday that Kiser will retire effective Thursday.

District officials will post the transportation position when schools reopen Monday, and they hope to name a new director by the end of the month, Deffendall said.

Kiser headed the Fayette Schools' transportation for more than 20 years, but he was embroiled in controversy at times.

Four Fayette school bus drivers sued Kiser and then- superintendent Peter Flynn in U.S. District Court in 1999, alleging that they were harassed by supervisors after they publicly complained about alleged age and sex discrimination in the transportation department. The suit also named the Fayette County school board.

In 2000, a federal jury affirmed the four drivers' complaints of discrimination, awarding them a total of $100,000.

The controversy began in 1998, when some Fayette bus drivers took their complaints to the district's Equity Council, which then issued a report calling for reforms and concluding that the transportation department was "in chaos from the inside out." Some of the drivers also picketed the school system's central offices on East Main Street to call public attention to their complaints.

Flynn, the superintendent, responded by arranging to provide mediators for disputes and sensitivity training.
Controversy in the department persisted, however.

Sherry King, a former Fayette school bus driver, sued Kiser, former superintendent Stu Silberman, three transportation supervisors and the school board in 2011, alleging that she was sexually harassed while working for the district. King alleged that she became a target of bullying and intimidation by Kiser and the three supervisors after she filed a grievance about the alleged sexual harassment.

Tom Shelton, who was named Fayette superintendent in June 2011, said he began hearing complaints over working conditions in the transportation department shortly after he was hired.

Shelton said he planned to conduct an inquiry into issues in the department, but he had to put that plan on hold once King filed her lawsuit.

Shelton recently resigned to become director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.
Associate transportation director Marcus Dobbs will direct the department until a permanent director is named, Deffendall said.

KSN&C Backstory:

  • Thursday, January 27, 2011 - Where Grievances Go To Die 

  • Wednesday, February 09, 2011 - Blogging from Under the Bus 

  • Thursday, May 19, 2011 - Respect and Disrespect

  • Thursday, September 15, 2011 - Fayette Transportation Director Kiser Sued for Retaliation Against Whistle Blower 

  • Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - Former bus driver for Fayette schools sues, alleging sexual harassment

  • Saturday, March 03, 2012 - Fayette Transportation Employees Accuse Department of Fraud 

  • Thursday, March 08, 2012 - Disrespect Again

  • Friday, March 09, 2012 - Fayette superintendent launches transportation department review

  • Tuesday, March 20, 2012 - FCPS Transportation Manager Openly Flaunts District Policy - Evidence of a Double Standard in FCPS Transportation Dept - Board considering a new policy requiring all board owned vehicles to be kept at work

  • Sunday, May 13, 2012 - Wasted Effort Sends Another Bad Message in FCPS Transportation


Anonymous said...

I am enjoying the mass exodus at Central Office. Many have been a long time coming! Time for a fresh start!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad this bully, this tyrant is gone from transportation. I can see the drivers on Monday. They are singing " Ding, Dong the witch is dead." You can do do your jobs, drivers. The reign of terror is over.

Anonymous said...

And once again the truth about someone under Mary Wright comes to light. When will the super, the board, the PUBLIC hole this shady and ineffective administrator responsible for the corruption all around her?!

Anonymous said...

Fellow drivers, thank Amanda Ferguson and Doug Barnett for this day! They fought the fight in 2014 and helped cause this mass exodus of bad actors to leave FCPS! I'm just happy they had the guts to stand up for employees, question the budget and speak out despite all of the abuse and retaliation they got from the newspaper and the powers-that-be.

It is a new day in FCPS!

Anonymous said...

In a society like ours, we try to make sense of people like Mr. Kiser.

The drivers could not stand him. He was not kid friendly. He violated fair labor practices.

It all went on for years. But then came Stu and the new slogan: It's about kids.

While teachers were shown the door for not being kid friendly and others who didn't buy into the slogans were reassigned to horrible class loads or had their rooms taken away, Kiser remained. Stu and tom simply didn't dismiss him.

Stu and Tom: you violated all laws of decency in allowing Kiser to remain. Your legacy is as tarnished as Kiser's.

Anonymous said...

the fact that he's leaving with no retirement party no notice of any kind except I'm walking out the door doesn't that speak volumes Kaizers been there 20+ years and Out the door like a roach thank goodness