Three lawmakers raise 'grave concerns' over JCPS' hiring of ex-central office lawyer as teacher
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The hiring of an ex-central office attorney as a teacher at Central High School is "disrespectful to teachers and to taxpayers," say two of the three Louisville lawmakers who wrote a letter to Jefferson County Public Schools Superintendent Donna Hargens on Monday.
State Reps. Phil Moffett and Jerry Miller, who along with Rep. Kevin Bratcher co-wrote the letter, told WDRB News they question how Stephanie Malone was offered a teaching job in the law magnet program at Central High when her central office job was eliminated as part of Hargens' decision to outsource legal work to save money.
"When we hear Dr. Hargens say she is going to reduce the bloat in central office and then find out that people are getting reassigned to jobs that frankly don’t exist or weren’t requested, that's a concern," Moffett said. "It disrespects teachers in the system...and it's disrespectful to taxpayers."
Miller, who says he has been a supporter of Hargens, said called the move "appalling."
"I have immense respect for Dr. Hargens and I think she’s done a good job, the recent shakeups in central office were good but this has really undercut my confidence in their ability to manage," Miller said. "It is always easier to raise taxes than it is to manage. It appears this is a case of JCPS taking care of someone they like."
The letter, signed by Bratcher, Moffett and Miller, cites WDRB's June 30 story about Malone. In their letter to Hargens, the Republican legislators provided a copy of the story "in the hopes that you can assure us it contains gross inaccuracies."
"If that is not the case, we hope you can understand where the citizens of Jefferson County would have grave concerns with this action," the letter states. "While we have nothing personally against Ms. Malone and acknowledge she might excel in this role, the fact remains she will be earning more than double the amount of a first year teacher, as well as earning more than her peers in the same program, and, perhaps most egregiously, her immediate supervisor, all of whom hold equal, if not superior credentials."
Bratcher, Moffett and Miller ask "what message this sends to other teachers in JCPS, some of whom have dedicated years to the instruction of our children but will earn a mere fraction of what Ms. Malone will in her first year as a classroom teacher?"
Hargens could not be reached for immediate comment on Monday.
On Thursday, JCPS defended creating the $84,000 teaching job for Malone, saying there was “no other place for her to go."
Malone will earn double the salary of a starting educator despite not yet having teaching credentials.
Officials say she will pursue certification through the state's career and technical education program, which allows potential educators an alternate route to becoming a teacher.
"It was authorized by the superintendent and done after consulting with human resources," Michael Raisor, chief operations officer for JCPS, told WDRB News last week. "We created this position because there was no other place for her to go and because Central High School had expressed the desire to expand their law program."
However, Central High’s budget for the upcoming academic year makes no request for an expanded program, and Dan Withers -- who was the school’s principal until his retirement June 30 – told WDRB News the school did not ask the district to fund a third law magnet teaching position.
Withers said the school had already expanded its law and government magnet program during the 2013-14 year with the addition of a second teacher and the opening of a new courtroom.
No additional students are entering the law magnet program and no additional classes have been added to the schedule for this fall, Withers said.
The job at Central High was not advertised and Malone's salary will be paid out of the district's general fund instead of the school’s budget. At $84,000, her salary will be roughly that of a teacher with a doctorate and 25 years' experience, according to the JCPS salary schedule.
When asked why JCPS is spending $84,000 on a new position was neither advertised nor requested -- particularly with the district likely to seek a tax increase in August -- Raisor was unapologetic.
"We had an overstaffed employee we needed to place and thought this was an incredible opportunity to invest the law magnet at Central," he said. "We are not going to apologize for investing in our schools."
Miller said he and his two colleagues think the move is "very questionable."
"It is always easier to raise taxes on people than it is to manage," said Miller, who represents eastern Jefferson County. "It appears this is a case of JCPS taking care of someone they like."
Reporter Antoinette Konz can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.
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