Education

The chief academic officer for Jefferson County Public Schools criticized the district’s working conditions and pointed out a “lack of concurrency between our strategic plan and our actions” in a resignation letter released Thursday morning.

Dewey Hensley announced his resignation in a letter to district Superintendent Donna Hargens and Board of Education Chairman David Jones Jr.

“It has been a challenge to be heard above the noise of indecision, the circling buzz of perception, and the hammer strikes to fabricate an image,” he said in the letter.

Hensley went on to condemn Hargens’ “lack of investment in our students from poverty” and how “credit weighed much more than credibility in our work.”

“This empowered those with the least accountability and the least experience while silencing many whose lives are focused on this work and who are most accountable for results,” Hensley said in the letter.

He also claimed his input was discounted, despite being in a primary position to take responsibility for results.

That, he said, makes him a scapegoat, “not by chance, but by design.”

“Obviously, it is not wise for a person, no matter how willing he or she is to accept accountability, to have the responsibility to do something, but none of the decision making capital,” he wrote.

He said he is confident his team will be able to meet the district’s requirements in his absence. His resignation is effective Friday evening.

Hensley has been in his current role with the district since 2012. Before that, he worked as an associate commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Education. He’s also been a principal at Atkinson Elementary and Bates Elementary in Jefferson County.

Hargens issued this written statement early Thursday:

“I was saddened to learn from Dewey of his decision to resign as Chief Academic Officer of JCPS, effective Oct. 9. Dewey has been an unwavering champion for the success of all students, including those who are excelling, those who are struggling, and those who have yet to discover their passion. I will miss his honest counsel and fierce determination.”

District officials have provided no further comment.

Update: 1:23 p.m.

Here is a statement sent Thursday evening from the district’s Board of Education chairman David Jones Jr. on behalf of the board.

Since Kentucky released test results on October 1, feelings have been running high.  JCPS leadership and board members were disappointed in many of the results.  We all feel a sense of urgency to address the reality that more than half of JCPS’ students are not on track according to State standards.  We are all passionate about our kids’ education, and we are all under pressure to improve results.

In an organization as complex as a school or school district, no one individual is solely responsible for success or failure.  The work of improving a big school district has no place for individual heroes or scapegoats; rather, a culture of teamwork and trust is essential, and – as the board has discussed and called out many times before — building this culture, and the competencies that flow from it, is a very high priority.

We regret Dr. Hensley’s resignation, but we are united in our determination to see higher achievement by JCPS’ students.

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Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.