JCPS communications chief warned for gossiping about fellow empl - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS communications chief warned for gossiping about fellow employee's sexual orientation

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens has admonished her executive director of communications Helene Kramer Longton for making an inappropriate comment about another employee, but Hargens appears to have spared Kramer from disciplinary action.

In a letter to Kramer dated yesterday, Hargens said she expects Kramer's future conversations to center solely on work and that “failure to meet these expectations … may result in disciplinary action.”

And in a separate letter dated today, Hargens told the employee about whom Kramer had made the inappropriate comment that JCPS is willing to “hire an external mediator” to resolve their differences. The employee had filed complaints containing at least one “serious allegation” against Kramer, Hargens said in the letter.

Hargens' decision follows two recently completed investigations into the spat between the two employees -- one by JCPS' director of compliance and investigations Georgia Hampton, dated Oct. 30; and a subsequent report, dated yesterday, by attorney Mark Fenzel of the Middleton Reutlinger firm in Louisville.

EARLIER: JCPS investigating communications director Helene Kramer


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

On Friday, JCPS released heavily redacted copies of the reports and Hargens' letters to the employees in response to a request under the Kentucky Open Records Act.

The school district blacked out the name of the employee about whom Kramer made the inappropriate comment, the nature of comment and the entirety of the employee's allegations against Kramer. That was done at the request of the employees who requested confidentiality, said Tyson Gorman, an attorney representing JCPS.


But according to an un-redacted copy of the Oct. 30 investigative report obtained by WDRB News, Kramer admitted to speculating on the sexual orientation of the employee while having lunch with a third employee shortly after Kramer started the job in August.


The employee about whom Kramer gossiped also works in the district's central office.

JCPS has a non-discrimination policy prohibiting harassment based on a number of factors including sexual orientation.

In an Oct. 23 letter explaining what happened, she wrote that she only repeated a rumor about the employee's sexual orientation in the context of denouncing the “viciousness” of the “rumor mill” – of which she herself has been a “victim” in the past, she wrote.

“I take full responsibility for stepping into a land mine of gossip that has come to characterize the environment at the VanHoose Education Center. A member of the Superintendent's Cabinet should not go there,” Kramer wrote in the letter, which was part of the un-redacted report given to WDRB News.

Additionally, Hargens wrote in her letter that Kramer indicated she “deeply regret(s)” the incident and “take(s) full responsibility” for it.

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


Meanwhile, the JCPS employees who requested confidentiality told WDRB News on Friday they objected to how heavily the district redacted the Kramer investigative report, saying that it's "important for public entity such as JCPS to disclose nature of a sustained allegation."


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