Residents, child advocacy groups, and Jefferson County Public Schools officials will attend a meeting Tuesday night to discuss the district’s disciplinary practices, which have been called into question in the past year.
JCPS is one of the top districts in the state that disproportionately disciplines minority and disability students, according University of Kentucky report based on 2008-2009 data.
Of the top 10 districts that show disproportionate ratios, JCPS is the only one that hasn’t adequately changed its policy, said attorney Leslie Jones with the independent state agency Kentucky Protection and Advocacy.
Jones filed a complaint last year on behalf of several JCPS students who claim this discrimination. The case is currently being investigated by the U.S. Department of Education. But, she said, Tuesday night is an opportunity for district leaders to hear community input for potential policy changes.
“It’s not a forum just to say all these negative things about Jefferson County, because there are positive things about Jefferson County also,' she said. “It’s a forum to recognize there is an issue here and bring the community together to address the issue.”
JCPS has been urged to join the Positive Behavior Interventions and Support program offered through the Kentucky Department of Education. Several other districts have jumped on board with this plan, while other districts have partnered with the Equity Center and the Children's Law Center to address their issue of disproportionate disciplinary action.
In the most recent report from the Children's Law Center, data shows in JCPS during the 2009-2010 school year, African American non-special education students accounted for 51 percent of the suspensions, while they make up 33 percent of the population.
White non-special education students accounted for 28 percent of the suspensions while they made up 51 percent of the population.
Superintendent Donna Hargens will be unable to attend, but JCPS board chair Steve Imhoff and district officials said JCPS with have representation at the meeting.
Attention to the district’s disciplinary actions was one of the prominent recommendations given to Hargens in her annual evaluation last week.
Also scheduled to attend are officials from Kentucky Youth Advocates, the Children's Law Center and the U.S. Justice Department.
The meeting will take place at Jefferson Community and Technical College, Hartford Auditorium Room 006, 649 S. First Street, at 6:30.