Kentucky Department of Education releases audits of two JCPS sch - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Kentucky Department of Education releases audits of two JCPS schools

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Late Monday afternoon, the Kentucky Department of Education presented the results of its audits of two Jefferson County Public Schools: Byck Elementary School and The Academy @ Shawnee. Late Monday afternoon, the Kentucky Department of Education presented the results of its audits of two Jefferson County Public Schools: Byck Elementary School and The Academy @ Shawnee.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Late Monday afternoon, the Kentucky Department of Education presented the results of its audits of two Jefferson County Public Schools: Byck Elementary School and The Academy @ Shawnee.

According to a news release from JCPS, the audits "report areas of growth since the last reviews and note improvement priorities."

Byck Elementary School

The audit determined that the school should do more to develop and implement its mission and vision statements.

"The principal reported that while the vision and mission statements were displayed throughout the school, these statements had not been ingrained into school norms," the audit stated. "In addition, the principal reported, 'If you asked anyone in our school about the mission and vision, they will tell you that we are not doing that.'"

The sentiment was mutual among other members of the staff, according to the audit.

"The Diagnostic Review Team frequently heard comments such as, 'lack of mission and vision, lack of shared leadership, no voice, dictatorship, lack of consistency' and 'lack of support' during stakeholder interviews," the audit stated. "The school had experienced a lack of consistent leadership within the last year, which resulted in frequent changes in processes, procedures and personnel."

Several teachers complained that Principal Carla Kolodey failed to include them in her decision-making process, launching initiatives "using her positional authority rather than distributing leadership," "leaving those teachers with the impression they were not valued." Those teachers went on to say that they felt their jobs were threatened if they disagreed with Kolodey, and accused Kolodey of favoritism when it came to hiring for open positions.

The audit also addressed issues of student behavior and disciplinary plans. According to the audit, the school's disciplinary plan had not been well implemented or maintained.

"Interview data showed many students reported receiving treats if their behavior improved," the audit stated. "In contrast, interview data revealed several staff members did not agree with rewarding students with a treat to entice them to behave better. In addition, student misbehaviors in both hallways and classrooms were not consistently addressed."

The audit went on to criticize the actual classroom instruction as being "neither challenging nor rigorous," and recommended that the school establish "a results-driven continuous improvement process."

But the school was lauded for its ability to develop partnerships with community leaders to support students. Specifically, the audit noted a partnership with Texas Roadhouse in which the restaurant chain provided perfect attendance rewards for staff and students, including gift cards for staff and toys for students.

"A partnership with Global Game Changer established in September 2017 provided an after-school program that focused on the simple equation 'my talent + my heart = my superpower' to teach 50 students social emotional learning skills," the audit added. "The program was provided four days a week for two hours daily and included activities to expose students to cultural experiences within the greater community."

The full audit is below:

The Academy @ Shawnee

The audit stated that The Academy @ Shawnee had the potential to serve as "a beacon of hope" for diversity in the community if the school realized its full potential.

"While the school was located in the heart of the west end community that had a high crime rate, an economically depressed environment and boarded up homes, the school had a rich history," the audit stated. "At the helm of the school were two retired principals who assumed the role of co-principals when the school leader was removed in October of 2017."

The audit noted the school's aviation program as one of its core strenghts.

"When asked by students why they attended the school, overwhelmingly their responses referenced the school's aviation program and the leadership of the previous aviation instructor," the audit explained. "The Diagnostic Review Team noted that the school could benefit from investing in and marketing its aviation program."

However, the audit also noted that the school was plagued by frequent turnover -- the school had had multiple principals in the past eight years -- resulting in some programs that were haphazardly implemented, only to be completely abandoned when a new principal took the helm.

Students in particular noted the frequent staff turnover.

"In addition, interview data revealed that students longed for highly effective teachers who would remain at the school long-term," the audit stated. "During an interview, one student commented, 'If I could change one thing at my school, I would change the teachers' dedication and commitment to students. When we get good teachers, they don’t stay because they are not supported.'"

The audit also pointed to what it said was frequent behavior problems among students in the classrooms as an impediment to learning.

"Such distractions appeared to create high stress levels for teachers and administrators," the audit stated. "With teachers constantly leaving this school for various reasons and few staff members having more than five years of experience, students and staff claimed these factors created instability that inhibited the progress of plans, development of relationships and advancement of academic achievement."

Ultimately, the audit indicated that the school suffered from a lack of leadership.

"Finally, securing an effective, dynamic leader is a critical next step for the school. Also hiring, training and retaining qualified, professional staff members is encouraged as a way to stabilize and improve the school’s culture and climate and ensure staff members can implement school initiatives."

The full audit is included below:

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