Emails detail why JCPS didn't participate in public safety meeti - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Emails detail why JCPS didn't participate in public safety meeting about gangs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A top Jefferson County Public Schools official says the district's communications office requested he not participate in last week's Louisville Metro Council's public safety committee meeting about gang activity, according to emails obtained by WDRB News.

"I have been requested not to participate in the Public Safety Meeting by our Communications and Community Relations Office," wrote Stan Mullen, director of the JCPS security and investigations unit, in a March 22 email to Louisville Metro Councilman David James, who is the chairman of the public safety committee. "If you can have the Metro Police presenter contact me, then I will be glad to assist them with gang intelligence as we always do. I will brief him/her on what we would like parents to know."

Emails between Mullen, James and district communications officials were obtained by WDRB through the state's open records law.

Mullen sent an email to Mike Raisor, the district's chief operations officer; Allison Martin, the district's chief communications officer and Jennifer Brislin, the district's deputy communications director, on March 4, saying: "Councilman David James requested that I appear with Metro Police before the Metro Council Public Safety Committee. The timeframe is March 30 or April 6. The subject matter will be gangs and youth violence."

Robert Deacon, the district's gang coordinator, was also asked by James to participate in the meeting, which was held March 30.

On March 22, Brislin asked Mullen if he had a "prepared presentation" and if it was possible for "us to get together before you give remarks?"

James replied to Brislin, stating he was working on a PowerPoint, and maybe he could meet with Brislin on March 25.

"We have conducted many presentations and seminars on gangs in the last 12 years," Mullen responded and attached copies of two previous presentations.

One of the presentations was from the U.S. Department of Justice from July 2010 entitled "Gangs 101." The other was a PowerPoint put together by Deacon from May 2014 called "Gang Dynamics."

Emails between James and Deacon at 9 a.m. on March 22 show that the two were planning on attending the meeting, with James asking Deacon if he was "available...to plan what we are going to say?"

However, by 11 a.m. on March 22, Mullen send James the email, saying he was requested not to attend.

James replied: "It's disappointing that your communications office wishes not to participate in an opportunity to be transparent and help educate the public and possibly save some lives. Your help and cooperation is always appreciated."

Martin told WDRB last week that Superintendent Donna Hargens and members of her cabinet made the decision for Mullen and Deacon to not participate in the public safety committee meeting.

On Tuesday, Martin sent this statement:

The top priorities for JCPS are education, public safety, and the social and emotional well-being of our students. 

The Louisville Metro Police Department is the public safety expert on this particular issue in our community and our personnel work collaboratively every day with the department. 

JCPS offered to attend the hearing and provide information about public safety and the largest challenge facing our schools, which is the social and emotional needs of students.  

DOCUMENTS: You can read the emails JCPS provided to WDRB here.

James said the district wanted to talk about issues like lock down drills and hall monitoring, not gangs in schools, so he declined to have them participate since it didn't fit the discussion. 

At the March 30 meeting, top LMPD officials updated members of the Louisville Metro Council on several issues, including violent crime and gang activity. 

"We are addressing a violent crime issue and what we are finding is people we are arresting for some violent crimes have in fact in the past been identified as members in a gang," LMPD Police Chief Steve Conrad explained. 

While no concrete plans were laid out at the meeting, James called the discussion productive, but said he was disappointed that JCPS officials did not particpate.

Two teachers, who are members of the Jefferson County Teachers Association, attended the meeting and told committee members the "district's disciplinary system isn't working" and that "there needs to be more mental health resources for students."

James says he'll offer JCPS another opportunity to attend a public safety committee meeting. 

"We have talked about them coming next month to talk about those issues in the classroom and how we can best help them address those issues," James said. 

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Reporter Antoinette Konz covers K-12 education for WDRB News. She can be reached at 502-585-0838 or @tkonz on Twitter.

Copyright 2016 WDRB News. All rights reserved.

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