JCPS declines contract renewal for communications chief Helene K - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS declines contract renewal for communications chief Helene Kramer

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Helene Kramer Helene Kramer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Chief communications and community relations officer for Jefferson County Public Schools Helene Kramer was notified on Wednesday that her one-year contract was not being renewed by the district.

Kramer, who started in August of last year, could not immediately be reached for comment.

She will serve out the rest of her contract, which expires June 30.

Superintendent Donna Hargens notified Kramer of her decision to not renew the contract, but WDRB News could not reach Hargens for comment late Wednesday.

"Contract non-renewal is an option that can be used in the first four years of employment in order to look for someone else to move the work of the district forward," spokesperson Mandy Simpson said in a statement emailed to WDRB Wednesday night. "Positions will be filled."

Kramer will work "in an alternate role," through June 30, Simpson said.

Several school board members told WDRB they received a text from Hargens Wednesday afternoon informing them of Kramer's non-renewal.

Chairman David Jones Jr. said he was aware of the situation but did not want to comment further. 

Board member Linda Duncan said having no communications director or staff was a "huge concern."

Board member Chris Brady said he believes a gap in the communications office is also a concern to Hargens.

This is the third announced departure from the communications department in less than two weeks. The news comes less than a week after the district's primary spokesman, Ben Jackey, submitted his resignation letter. That resignation came just days after another communications staffer, Mandy Simpson, notified the district she would leave on May 22. Both Jackey and Simpson resigned from their positions after taking new jobs.

Sources tell WDRB that Hargens wants to bring former JCPS communications specialist Stephanie Bateman back on an interim basis.

Sources told WDRB News last week that Kramer is the subject of an investigation 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.

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.

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