Teachers, students and parents gathered in front of Atherton High School early Wednesday morning for a walk-in to protest a possible state takeover of Jefferson County Public Schools.
The group of about 35 people, many dressed in red, gathered near the street in front of the school as students and staff members arrived to start the day. Drivers in buses and cars honked their horns in support as they drove past the crowd.
Spanish teacher Nicki Marzian helped plan the event. The walk-in came a day after the JCPS board voted to appeal the state’s recommendation to take control of the district.
“We would rather have our school board, who is made up of elected members, who is accountable to the voters, than a single person who can kind of do whatever they want in charge of our schools,” Marzian said. “We feel like the people we elected, we trust them to get together and compromise on what’s best for our district instead of somebody from out in the state.”
The proposed takeover was included in the results of a state-sponsored audit that said JCPS underreports student restraint and seclusion, inadequately manages students’ instruction and fails to provide enough support to the lowest-performing schools.
Under Interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis’ proposed plan, new JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio would manage the district’s daily operations, but he would give weekly reports to officials in Frankfort. The state would have the final say on any actions.
Jennifer Walker attended the walk-in with a sign supporting the Jefferson County Teachers Association. The high school English teacher said she knows JCPS has problems, but she thinks Pollio, who became superintendent last summer, and the JCPS board are better suited to fix the problems.
“We need support from the state, not a takeover from the state,” Walker said. “They need to help fund us, whatever help they would like to give us, but they don’t need to take us over, and we’re concerned that if they take us over that it’ll hurt our kids in the long run rather than help them.”
At least 34 JCPS schools staged walk-ins on Wednesday.
The Jefferson County School board voted Tuesday to appeal the state education department’s recommendation for a takeover of the district. JCPS will present its appeal to the Kentucky Board of Education.