JCPS considering proposal to hire non-violent felons - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS considering proposal to hire non-violent felons

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- JCPS has a policy of not hiring convicted felons, but that could change under a new proposal that will be up for school board approval next week.

That's good news for people like Ronald Cooper.

Although Cooper says he has "worked enough to last a lifetime," he hasn't been able to land the kind of jobs he wants because of a past felony conviction. 

"My choices are limited," Cooper said. "Once they do the criminal background check and that blip pops up ... a lot of places won't even consider your application if you are a convicted felon."

Kentucky's largest school district may no longer be one of those places. The potential JCPS policy change would tear down the block on ex-cons, allowing those with old, non-violent offenses to be considered for jobs with kids. 

Cooper, who has a 15-year-old forgery conviction, is all for it. 

"I think that's wonderful because there are so many of us out here that are capable and qualified but not considered," Cooper said. 

Not everyone thinks it's a good idea, including parent Anitra Durand Allen. 

"I send my kids to school to be safe," Allen said. 

The Mom on the Move blogger has a daughter who attends a JCPS middle school. 

"I don't want to block an opportunity for anyone to get to next level or a second chance to maybe provide for their own children," Allen said. "But on the other side as a mom I don't think that the way it's described I feel completely comfortable."

The proposal does not clearly define a non-violent offense or how old the conviction would need to be for the felon to be considered. 

A dire need for bus drivers may be driving the decision.  JCPS is trying to hire 50 to 70 bus drivers, and has been consistently canceling routes and leaving hundreds of kids scrambling for a ride to school. 

JCPS board member Linda Duncan is against the idea. 

"We have high standards and we want our employees to have high standards," Duncan said. 

Starting pay for JCPS bus drivers is $16.58 an hour. Cooper says if Louisville schools change, then he'll be first in line to apply. Cooper says he would gladly take the job for that salary. 

"That would be like hitting a lottery ticket -- that would be like a Pick 3 dude," Cooper said. 

If approved, the hiring policy change would apply to both teaching and non-teaching positions. The proposal is on the agenda for the next school board meeting set for Oct. 25. 

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