JCPS communications director Helene Kramer had problems at prior - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS communications director Helene Kramer had problems at prior job with LMPD

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Helene Kramer, who is under investigation for allegedly making inappropriate comments in her new job as communications director for Jefferson County Public Schools, was previously on thin ice in her role as a spokeswoman for Louisville Metro Police more than a decade ago.

Kramer's Louisville Metro personnel file, obtained by WDRB News in an open records request, shows that a number of deficiencies caused police to extend her new hire probationary period by six months in August 2001.

The personnel file shows Kramer survived the probationary period but was laid off in December 2004 by LMPD Police Chief Robert White. The department said it was eliminating her position. However, LMPD later hired someone else to perform similar duties.

Greg Smith, White's predecessor, wrote in an August 2001 memo that Kramer's “lack of experience has contributed to personnel problems within the unit she must supervise and with personnel outside of her unit. This is an area that needs improvement.”

Smith also noted that because Kramer did not “possess a police background, there is a lack of understanding of division rules, policies and contracts.”

“Finally, errors in judgment have been noted,” Smith wrote. “To reduce discretion in critical areas, (Kramer) has been requested to develop a manual for her office that will provide guidelines on the release of information to the public and news media. Her immediate supervisor and myself will approve these guidelines.”

Multiple sources tell WDRB News that the JCPS investigation centers around inappropriate comments Kramer allegedly made in regards to whether another employee is gay.

WDRB News requested a copy of the district's investigation involving Kramer through an open records request last week.

Rosemary Miller, the district's legal counsel, said via email late Friday afternoon the records are “preliminary and are not a part of any final agency action.”

She added the records they will not be available until "such time when the requested report (and related requested records) becomes a part of final action."

Kramer, who is one of six members on JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens' executive cabinet, told WDRB News Friday by email, "The process is not complete, and we need to respect the process."

JCPS has a non-discrimination policy stating that harassment and discrimination is prohibited because of an individual's age, color, disability, marital or parental status, national origin, race, sex, sexual orientation, political opinion or affiliation or religion.

Kramer, who makes $127,698 annually, replaced Christi Lanier-Robinson, whose two-year contract was not renewed by JCPS.

The communications department has been the subject of restructuring since 2012, when Hargens froze or eliminated 89 central office positions as part of an administrative reorganization.

In March 2012, Hargens announced the hiring of Jamilah Fraser, a former chief communications officer with the Philadelphia Public School District, to be the district's chief diversity, community relations and communications officer.

However, after questions were raised about Fraser's background and qualifications, Fraser sent a letter to Hargens saying she would not accept the job.

In May 2012, Hargens announced that longtime district spokeswoman Lauren Roberts' position as public information officer was being eliminated. Roberts, who made $129,000, took a $10,000 pay cut and was given a job in the district's human resources department. She was fired two months later.

Hargens then hired Lanier-Robinson as executive director of communications and community relations, but decided not to renew Lanier-Robinson's contract when it expired in June 2014.

During her annual evaluation in June, Hargens was asked by the Jefferson County Board of Education to improve both internal and external communications in the district.

Hargens has not been available for comment about Kramer's status.

Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

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