State requires training for Yates principal, Jessamine school leaders

Fayette County Public Schools central offices at 701 East Main Street, Lexington.
Fayette County Public Schools central offices at 701 East Main Street, Lexington.

In separate investigations, Kentucky’s Office of Education Accountability found minor violations in the Fayette County and Jessamine County school districts.

In each case, the accountability office is requiring the administrators to take additional training, generally about school-based councils.

In Kentucky, the councils have the responsibility to set school policy and make decisions outlined in state law. Council members include parents, teachers and a school administrator.

In Fayette County, the accountability office found that Yates Elementary principal Twanjua Jones violated state law because a subgroup of that school’s council, didn’t give notice of special meetings and didn’t record notes in interviews with teacher candidates.

Other violations included that ineligible people were on the council, and the school’s policy on consulting with the school council doesn’t comply with state law.

Jones has to obtain three hours training from a state approved trainer on the subject of requirements of Open Meeting Laws and make sure the school is in compliance on the other fronts.

Fayette Superintendent Manny Caulk defended Jones, saying she is “a talented, exemplary principal and we stand behind her.” Caulk also said the law needs to be reviewed and updated.

Jessamine County rulings

In Jessamine County, an investigation found that Superintendent Kathy Fields, deputy superintendent Matt Moore, West Jessamine High School principal Scott Wells and athletic director Ken Cox circumvented the school council in establishing extracurricular archery, bass fishing and wrestling programs. Investigators also found that Cox and Wells violated state law by not consulting West Jessamine High’s council regarding hiring.

Under state law, the board of education is responsible for determining funding once the school council approves an extracurricular activity, a May 13 ruling said.

Fields, Moore, Cox and Wells were required to take three hours training about school councils, the rulings on each administrator said.

Fields, the superintendent, said in an email message to the Herald-Leader that district officials weren’t interviewed and afforded due process during the investigation.

“These violations of civil rights have since been reported to our elected state representatives,” she said. She also said that district officials plan to provide additional training for principals, secretaries and school councils.

Valarie Honeycutt Spears: 859-231-3409, @vhspears