A Menifee County man has taken a petition to the state school board asking for the removal of the district state manager following the arrests of a Menifee County teacher for snorting drugs in her classroom in front of students and a coach for sexual abuse of a student.
Two student suicides also allegedly occurred in the last year when school district officials ignored bullying complaints, prompting the call to have Tim Spencer removed.
Menifee County Public Schools has been under the control of a state manager since 2015. Kentucky Associate Commissioner Kelly Foster told state board members on Wednesday that Kentucky Department of Education officials were aware of the problems that prompted the petition but "we've got 100 percent confidence in everything that's going on in that school district."
Board members were told in a written report Wednesday that the school district has continued to make many improvements throughout the school year.
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Menifee County resident Garry Wells told the Herald-Leader that he was at the state board meeting to present to the board a petition with over 1,000 names asking the state board to remove Spencer..
"We've just had so much stuff happening in our school system," said Wells. "The parents of the children are the ones that asked us to do the petition. We've been to about half of Menifee County. If we go to the other half I'm sure there's another 1,000 names there. They are a mad bunch of people. "
"We had bullying, where two little girls killed themselves. There wasn't anything done to stop the bullying. We had a teacher that snorted drugs in front of the class. She's going to court for that," said Wells. A coach had been charged regarding an incident involving young girls, said Wells.
He said Menifee board officials "hide it." "They don't want you to know anything that's going on."
Wells brought criminal court documents to the state board.
"If you all don't do something, we're going to go out and get the other thousand names that's out there and see what else we can do," he said.
State manager Tim Spencer was away from his office Friday.
Foster, an Associate Commissioner at the Kentucky Department of Education, told board members that she had been aware of the petition that's been going around the district.
"We've got 100 percent confidence in everything that's going on in that school district. I expect to see some growth in test data when the scores come out," in the fall, Foster said. "Change is hard."
"The district has had a lot happen the last year. Unfortunately this time last year they lost some students to teen suicide," Foster said.
"School was already out. The school district worked with the community. We have continued to provide support to the high school and the high school principal , so we've been very involved in the recovery for that community and that high school and that district as a whole as those students tried to work through that in the last year," said Foster. "That was a horrible, horrible thing that happened. "
The Kentucky “Get Involved, Get it Solved, Stop the Bullying” campaign sponsored by the Kentucky Center for School Safety is promoted on the school district website.
In another incident, Spencer told the Herald-Leader's reporting partner WKYT-TV in February that he received reports of an employee, 41-year-old Cherish Rednour, who appeared to be under the influence.
Court records said two students had seen Rednour crush a pill with a credit card and make a line with the crushed pill. They then watched her snort the pill. They also said that she was slumped over her desk and it appeared that it was hard for her to stay awake.
A law enforcement officer said in his report that " As I was talking to her, she acted very confused at times. Inside of her classroom, on her desk was white residue and a credit card with residue. Once she was placed under arrest... she was searched... inside of her bra was a tampon applicator that resembled a very small, cut straw." Rednour was charged with public intoxication of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. A hearing is scheduled for June, court records said.
"There was some substance abuse," Foster told state school board members. She said that person was suspended and given due process and then immediately terminated.
"That was also handled under Mr. Spencer's leadership," Foster said.
Foster said the person who had inappropriate contact with a student was no longer with the school district. "Unfortunately things happen in a school district, but I can tell you 100 percent that they've all been handed by the law in a timely fashion."
In September 2017, WYMT-TV reported that a Menifee County Schools employee was " out of a job and in jail after being accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a female student."
Stanley Hensley, 22, of West Liberty, was charged with sexual abuse. School officials told WYMT-TV that Hensley is no longer employed with the district. Hensley pleaded not guilty in district court. The Morehead News reported that he was the volleyball coach for Menifee County High School.
Another hearing is scheduled later this month in Menifee Circuit Court.
Foster said she and new Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who was hired in April, were in Menifee County a month ago and they had lunch with two of the local board members.
"They sang the praises of Mr. Spencer and the praises of state management," saying that management has helped Menifee County, Foster said.
Foster said some people might be signing the petition not knowing what they are signing for. But she said state education officials were monitoring the events in the Menifee school district.
"Nothing that was said today was new to myself or former commissioner or current commissioner or former or current general counsel," Foster said.
Lewis, meanwhile, has made a recommendation for state management of Jefferson County, Kentucky's largest school district following a state audit. Some Louisville citizens spoke to the state board on Wednesday against the takeover, which is being appealed by the Jefferson County Public Schools board. Breathitt County Public Schools is the only other school district under state management.