School District & Paper Team Up For Deception

Montgomery County Schools superintendent Josh Powell and the Mt. Sterling Advocate have done it again. Purposefully working to mislead the public. All with your taxpayer dollars and under the guise of trustworthy journalism.

We wrote previously about Title IX discrimination in Montgomery County and the lack of suitable facilities for girls. The situation was such a mess that during an investigation, Powell decided to settle rather than deal with the onslaught in the press.

Click here to read all about it. And recall that those “audits” they’re talking about in this latest story? They’re self-audits with absolutely zero oversight or verification.

Now, let’s dig in to the latest. A few weeks ago, that abysmal local paper ran a story about facilities access. Despite the Title IX complaint from people who actually work at the school and despite dozens of people backing the complaint up with the Office of Civil Rights, the paper decided it would be a good idea to push misinformation from the district. (This is on top of all the photos and related information we’ve previously published about the scandal.)

Take a look at some of it:


CLICK TO ENLARGE BOTH

They’re calling the former girls’ facility an “auxiliary” room or bonus room. Something we already know is super-far from reality. Look no further than the sign on the door for proof:


WELLNESS CENTER

See that bar loaded on the outside of the rack? That’s one of the safety issues that Powell & Co were aware of and the OCR was informed about. Narrow racks that don’t allow movement to be made inside them – requiring movement outside the rack. That doesn’t allow for safeties to be used to land weights onto the rack in case they need to be quickly dumped. Lifters in that situation also had to stand on the slippery floor instead of on rubber mats.

In the first photo, you’ll see that the room is set up for archery practice. What the paper didn’t report, though, was that on December 9, the athletic director sent an email to coaches announcing that the weight room would be set up for this purpose for the first time in the school year. For the very first time it was also made clear by the administration that all sports would have access to the Fieldhouse weight room if they wanted it. Up until that point it was well-documented with the OCR and widely understood that the Fieldhouse was a facility for boys only. That email blast came right around the time Powell entered discussions regarding a Resolution Agreement.

Some excerpts from the accompanying story:

The school district was subject of a previous complaint to the Office of Civil Rights alleging that it discriminated against female athletes at the school.

That’s inaccurate. It’s an ongoing complaint and will be open until the OCR is confident that the school district is in full compliance with Title IX.

The case was resolved through a Voluntary Resolution Agreement before the conclusion of the OCR’s investigation.

Yet another inaccuracy. This one appears to come straight from the district with no effort on the part of the newspaper to verify the claim. The complaint will only be resolved once the OCR stops monitoring the district for compliance.

As part of the agreement with the OCR, Rison aid the district is performing a self-assessment regarding its weight training, medical and other facilities.

The high school has a Speed, Strength and Acceleration class for males and females.

At one time the high school offered separate classes for males and females. In the first year about 20 female students signed up, but last year it dropped to two, Rison said.

Unfortunately for Rison, the 2011-2012 school year was the first time the district offered girls such a class. It was repeated in 2012-2013. And there were 20-25 girls enrolled both years. That’s based on OCR documentation we’ve seen.

The claim that the class was open to boys and girls is simply a lie, as we’ve previously covered. And you can’t “make kids take classes” if you don’t open it up for them to take in the first place.

Rison said he is disappointed that the complainant never came to administration with their concerns so that the situation could be resolved before the OCR ever got involved.

“Give us an opportunity to fix it first,” he said.”

Reality: the OCR complaint was filed in July 2013 after district officials and the board of education refused to take action. Rison was even aware before Powell was hired by the district. It’s backed up so well that the OCR got involved.

Rison said the school system was surprised by the complaint because no major problems had been found during the annual audit from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and on-site audits that are conducted every five years.

Again, that’s a self-audit that is conducted by the district.

This is the cherry on top:

The two administrators also spoke proudly of the athletic facilities as a whole throughout the district.

“I’ll put of us in the top five in facilities in the state,” Rison said ” … We want great facilities for our kids, because research shows us that by them being involved their opportunity for success is greater.”

Really? Top five?













Riiiight.

No wonder Montgomery County Schools faces public relations nightmare after public relations nightmare.

Now, if only we had time to write about the shenanigans involving Powell replacing a high school principal because of a personal, non-school-related disagreement with his close friend. Or to follow up on the girl they kept a secret personnel file about. Or dig in with a story about SAMs – what Powell has decided to call assistant principals. I.E., training a school resource officer for a week and then putting him in the job. What a disaster.