Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mofield-Boswell wins Coin Toss, Barnett haunted by angry comment

Price appoints Love to screening committee

Following a legal procedure that no one seems to like, STEAM Academy PTA President Sharon Mofield-Boswell called "heads" and won the last seat on the FCPS Superintendent's Screening Committee ousting equity advocate and unsuccessful board candidate Roger Cleveland in the process. Cleveland pointed out the difficulty under-represented groups live with, but its hard for me to imagine his chances would have exceeded 50% had the law provided for a run off election.   Meanwhile, board member Doug Barnett is saying all of the right things, while others still recall that time he didn't.

This from WTVQ:

Coin toss decides the parent seat on 
Fayette County superintendent search committee

This from the Herald-Leader:
A coin toss Monday broke the tie for the parent position on the Fayette County schools superintendent screening committee.

L to R, PTA VP James Brown, Cleveland, and Mofield-Boswell
Both candidates and others involved said they thought the state law that governed the process was flawed.

Ballots cast by PTA presidents yielded a tie between two parents: Roger Cleveland and Sharon Mofield-Boswell.

Mofield-Boswell, who is PTSA president at the district's STEAM Academy, won the coin toss.
According to state law, "If two or more persons are found to have received the highest and equal number of votes for the same office, the election shall be determined by lot." The conventional method is flipping a coin.

The Fayette County school board is required by law to appoint a superintendent screening committee that consists of two teachers, elected by teachers; one classified employee, elected by classified employees; one principal, elected by principals; one parent or guardian elected by PTA presidents representing every school in the district, and one school board member appointed by the chairman.
"Today was not about the coin toss; it was about how flawed the legislation is in 2014," Cleveland said. He ran unsuccessfully against Doug Barnett for the 2nd District seat on the school board in the November general election.

"This entire process sheds light on the lack of diversity we have in our district as it relates to faculty, staff and administrators," he said. "We have 45 percent students of color and 52 percent students eligible for free and reduced lunch in our district. Neither group will be well represented on the selection committee."

James Brown, vice president of the 16th District PTA, conducted the coin toss on live television in front of about a dozen witnesses.

Brown said that under the law, "there wasn't a way to ensure that all parents had input" because only the PTA presidents voted.

Mofield-Boswell also said she didn't think the process allowed enough parents to vote.

Nonetheless, Mofield-Boswell said, "my hope is to assist the board in finding a good candidate for all kids."

Also on Monday, school board chairman John Price named board member Daryl Love to the screening committee.

The other members are district budget director Julane Mullins, representing classified personnel; Fayette County Education Association president Jessica Hiler and associate director of certified personnel Meribeth Gaines, both representing certified employees; and principal representative Kate McAnelly of Beaumont Middle School.

Price has said he hoped a superintendent could be chosen by July to replace Tom Shelton, who has resigned to become executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.
Marlene Helm will be the interim superintendent.

Meanwhile, a group of students from the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team attended the school board meeting Monday to issue a formal request to Price. The group wants him to endorse an effort to amend the laws relating to superintendent search committees, site-based decision-making councils and school boards to include student representation.
In a Facebook post, Board member Doug Barnett wrote, "Couldn't agree more. We must get this statute changed to permit student voice on superintendent screening committees. I also believe that school districts that have Equity Councils should be permitted to appoint a member of the Equity Council to the screening committee."

Students also stood in front of the It's All About Kids Support Services Building before the meeting holding signs that read "Student Voice Matters" and "You taught us what we know, FCPS. Now, trust us to apply it."

Susie Smith, a senior at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and a member of the Student Voice Team who is helping to spearhead the campaign, said in a news release that, "In high school, students are required by law to take a citizenship class meant to underscore the value of democratic participation, yet here we are, trying to become informed and engaged, and having to fight to be heard."

The group is also asking students, parents, and teachers to sign an online petition at Chn.ge/1DC1qai.
The Prichard Committee Student Voice Team includes middle and high school students who work closely with the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence to position students as partners in improving Kentucky schools.

Eliza Jane Schaeffer, a member of the Student Voice Team, said in a news release that the group "has been beating the drum for the past two years, calling for reform and the inclusion of students as partners in some of these key processes. While great steps forward have been made, it is time for Kentucky to take a bolder step."

During the 2014 General Assembly, the Student Voice Team lobbied the legislature under the slogan "We Can't Wait" for more Kentucky public school funding. Afterward, Kentucky saw the largest restoration of K-12 funding since before the 2008 recession.

Several board members said they wanted to support the student voice team's initiative. They also discussed asking lawmakers to change the law so that, in the future ,a member of the district's Equity Council could serve on the selection committee.

Fayette school board member should recuse self 
from superintendent search, parent says

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/12/15/3595531/fayette-school-board-member-should.html?sp=/99/164/142/#storylink=cpy
Also from H-L:
Fayette County school board member Doug Barnett should recuse himself from the superintendent selection in the wake of comments he made on Facebook last month, a parent said during Monday's board meeting.

Lezell Lowe took issue with a Facebook post in which Barnett said he wouldn't consider any superintendent candidate who had supported Roger Cleveland, Barnett's opponent in the Nov. 4 general election. The board is choosing a replacement for Tom Shelton, who resigned to become executive director of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents.

Lowe said at the meeting that Barnett's recusal would be "the only way we are going to have fairness and integrity in the process, if its really all about kids."

"What was said was a form of intimidation or bullying to which any child in Fayette County Public Schools would have been reprimanded, suspended or expelled," he said.

In the November election, Barnett, who was first elected to the board in 2010, defeated Cleveland in the 2nd District race. The district covers northern Fayette County.

Barnett made his comments on Facebook on Nov. 6, the day Shelton's resignation was announced. The post said: "Well ... I hope your afternoon and evening was more interesting than mine! It appears that we are going to select a new superintendent for FCPS. Allow me to say two things that are non-negotiable: 1) I will NOT consider any candidate who will not improve morale within the district or consider employees as key collaborators; 2) woe be upon you if you supported my opponent. You just lost your seat at the table! Just saying!"

He apologized three days later and said he would consider all candidates. Barnett did not say anything in response to Lowe during Monday's meeting and declined to comment afterward.

"I was just blowing off steam," Barnett told the Herald-Leader on Nov. 9. " ...When I realized my post was inappropriate, I deleted it. Nothing more, nothing less. It wasn't directed at anybody. I was just upset about some of the negative things that had been said about me in the campaign. ... I posted something in anger. It was something I shouldn't have done."

After Monday's board meeting, Lowe said that "the community is divided by Mr. Barnett's comments" and that the board should have taken some action.

"There are many people who supported Dr. Cleveland," said Lowe, who hosts a radio show on WUKY. Barnett's comments have tainted the superintendent search process, he said.

Board chair John Price said after the meeting that he didn't think he had the authority to ask Barnett to recuse himself.

"I have no authority over another board member," said Price. "People think I'm their boss, but I'm not."

"If Doug is recused," Price said, "who represents his district in terms of all of his constituents in this process?"

Price said that the Facebook post was "inappropriate" and that Barnett realized that. "Unfortunately in the society we live in, once it's out there, it's out there forever," Price said.


Anonymous said...

Are we assuming that Mofield-Boswell is not an advocate for equity? Has the equity council made an effort to engage her before qualifying her as the opposition to the equity candidate. Perhaps they are being a bit prejudice at this point.

Anonymous said...

Good grief. Mr. Barnett made a mistake. He owned up to it. Move. On. Beating this dead horse won't change the election results. This is just another cry baby fit by supporters of Roger Cleveland. If the majority of Lexington voters in his district thought he could do better, they would have elected him.

Cleveland's best chance at getting his self-serving self on the committee was a coin toss- and he lost that too. Perhaps PTA presidents and people in Lexington just don't like him. Perhaps it has nothing to do with race at all.

Anonymous said...

I am an Fcea member and I support Barnett. Do not recuse yourself from the search process, please. We need you.

Anonymous said...

In the words of the good Dr. Cleveland himself, "this has been given too much play"! Of course, he was speaking of the embarrassing audit but, it is applicable here. Throw away the sour grapes and let's get busy working to repair our district. Same actions get same results...

Richard Day said...

When I first read Doug's comment on his Facebook page I sent him a note expressing my concern with the comment. In my experience, Doug had always seemed to support district efforts to address equity and I had come to believe in his sincerity. I still do. But his comment certainly called his ability to work with all of his constituents into question and undermined the community's faith in him - especially those hundreds of Cleveland supporters in Doug's district.

I also recognized how such a comment would likely cast a long shadow politically. The way reporting works, because of the comment, every time the issue of inclusion/equity/race comes up, whatever Doug says will be juxtaposed against that comment. The media will wait to see what happens next. I can't blame the parent who raised the issue again before the board. It was his legitimate right to do so. While I know nothing of the man's true motivations, I must allow that a reasonable person could raise the question. The horse isn't dead until the horse dies.

I accept that Doug's comment was a simple mistake borne out of emotion rather than reality. But he's an elected official and he doesn't get to decide when its time to move on. That's up to the public.

BTW, It is also my opinion that Roger was dead wrong about the audit report being given too much play. In my opinion, it did not seem to get enough.

Anonymous said...

I think Sharon will do an excellent job representing us. I am thrilled that she won the coin toss. She has a real talent for building relationships and working with other parents throughout the district. I do not know of a single person that could say anything bad about her intentions or her methods. With her, what you see is what you get. She is approachable and very straightforward. Her passion for kids is obvious. We are lucky to have her. Thank you Sharon!