LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The primary spokesman for Jefferson County Public Schools submitted his resignation letter to Superintendent Donna Hargens on Friday, effective immediately.Ben Jackey, who has worked in the JCPS communications office since January 2010, confirmed to WDRB News his resignation.

"I'm grateful for the support of my fellow JCPS staff, particularly the teachers and principals," Jackey said. "I believe in our students and I'm proud to have served the district."

Jackey says he made Hargens aware of his intent to resign earlier this month.

Jackey's resignation comes two days after another communications specialist turned in her resignation letter. Mandy Simpson, who was hired in January 2013, notified the district Wednesday she will leave JCPS on May 22.

Simpson told WDRB News Friday morning she had taken a job with Metro United Way as a manager of strategic volunteer engagement.

"I'm very excited about this new opportunity where I can expand my work in community relations," Simpson said.

"I am tremendously grateful to have served Jefferson County Public Schools and for all that I have learned during my time with the district," she said, adding that she is looking forward to working with JCPS in her new role at Metro United Way.

Jackey wouldn't say what his plans were for the future, only that he's "excited to explore a new opportunity."

Jackey confirmed that he has a new PR position that he will be starting this month.

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

Helene Kramer, who was named chief communications and community relations officer last August, was the subject of one district investigation last fall centered around making inappropriate comments about another employee.

Sources tell WDRB News that Kramer is also the subject of another investigation, this time involving the disclosure of confidential information. Because that investigation is pending, no details have been provided to WDRB.

Kramer, who makes $127,698 annually, replaced Christi Lanier-Robinson, whose two-year contract was not renewed by JCPS. 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. Her firing was later changed to a resignation, as part of a secret $200,000 payout WDRB News uncovered last fall.

After Roberts' departure, Hargens hired Lanier-Robinson as executive director of communications and community relations, a position she served until Hargens decided not to renew her contract 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. Neither Hargens nor Kramer could be reached for immediate comment on Friday.

Jackey previously worked for a news station in Louisville.

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


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