This post has been updated.
The corrective action plan governing Jefferson County Public Schools’ goals and success metrics in the coming years has been released, one day before the agreed deadline with the state.
Required as part of JCPS’ recent settlement with the state, the plan addresses over 50 issues identified in a state audit of the district. With the plan, JCPS hopes to remedy the problems by the time another state audit takes place in 2020.
“Now that the final plan has been put together, we are eager to begin the implementation phase,” JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio said in a statement. “We are confident that we can implement the plan and correct the deficiencies as a district in the time allotted by the agreement.”
The local school board will receive the plan as an information item at its Sept. 25 board meeting. The plan is set to officially begin Oct. 1, according to the agenda item, but the agenda notes the district has already begun to work on many of the issues.
Next steps for the district include developing a districtwide process to improve systems and processes, create a process for sharing updates in key areas with the state, revising JCPS’ internal auditor job description and updating the state and local boards, an agenda item said.
Recent actions to work on the plan include creating a cabinet-level position description to handle special education, beginning monthly meetings to update the state department of education on the district’s progress and sharing some team meeting schedules with the state, according to a PowerPoint on the board’s agenda.
The initial audit led interim Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis to recommend a state takeover, which was ultimately avoided with a settlement. The JCPS board passed the settlement agreement in a split 4-3 vote at the end of August, with the details of the plan unclear.
“The corrective action plan is the product of collaboration between Jefferson County Public Schools and the Kentucky Department of Education,” Lewis said in a statement. “A lot of work and time went into the development of the plan. I believe the plan addresses the deficiencies identified in the audit and, if the plan is implemented with fidelity, I am confident it will lead to significant improvement in the district.”
Alongside the corrective action plan, the agreement gives Lewis final authority over the district’s decisions in special education, early childhood education and restraint and seclusion. The local school board retains its authority over all areas over which Lewis does not have veto power.
The full plan covers hundreds of changes spanning nine areas, detailing individual tasks, who is responsible for each item and how often progress will be reviewed. Many of the items give JCPS freedom to develop, implement and monitor its own systems and policies.
While the local school board maintains its authority under the plan, the district will create training and onboarding processes for board members to explain roles and responsibilities. JCPS will also “explore” consultant services to improve board protocols.
Other planning changes center around standardizing the district’s internal organization and connections with schools, including developing a system to “ensure that schools are receiving the supports they need.”
JCPS maintains control over its student assignment plan but must modify it in some way by the 2020-2021 school year. While mentioned specifically in the settlement, the language is repeated in the planning part of the CAP. A committee tasked with reviewing and changing the plan is gathering community input over the next few months.
Other planning changes:
- Standardizing policies and procedures across the district with help from Kentucky School Board Association.
- Implement a system to ensure district goals are aligned with work inside schools, including things like data reviews.
Two key parts of the district, busing and facilities, fall under operational support.
As initially mentioned in the settlement agreement, all decisions regarding facility maintenance and replacement have to be sent to Lewis for feedback. A system to send policy ideas to Lewis needs to be developed.
In terms of busing, JCPS will monitor actual ridership versus projections, then analyze bus routes and potentially make changes if needed. The district will also look into which routes need additional bus monitors, and work with the bus drivers’ union to better assign routes.
Bus drivers should see more training on de-escalation and student management, including a potential increase in contract days for training.
The audit noted difficulties in managing student behavior on buses, including working with the school on punishment. Current consequences listed in the student behavior handbook will be reviewed, and district officials will ensure those consequences are being implemented “with fidelity” across the district. School administrators will be responsible for any needed changes.
Other support changes:
- Create a process to gather stakeholder feedback on bus discipline.
- Develop an intervention plan for students who have continued behavior issues on the bus, and support schools and bus drivers in implementing them.
- Write a formal business continuity plan for “critical operations” in case of emergency.
The audit focused on looking into new forms of revenue for the district. A slew of the financial changes push that forward, including training the local school board on revenue sources and hosting work sessions to look at those potential sources.
Other financial changes:
- Train site-based decision-making council members on financial policies.
- Review the district’s grant allocation process to ensure equitable allocations, and create a plan to communicate those changes to the schools.
- Ensure each school only has one bank account and properly handles the school credit card.
Personnel management changes are relatively straightforward, consisting of reviewing job descriptions and creating a way for “continuous improvement” in human resources through things like exit surveys.
JCPS will monitor its touted Vision 2020 plan to “ensure execution.” It is also tasked with providing supports to help schools implement the plan.
JCPS will also create a districtwide policy to ensure curriculum and instruction frameworks are implemented in all schools. The audit founds issues with some schools not implementing curriculum with the same rigor as others.
Career and technical education
Career and Technical Education is another area that Lewis is allowed to provide feedback for, but does not have direct veto power over.
A number of CTE-related changes focus on correcting inaccuracies in documentation of career pathways and properly reporting data.
Clearly communicating the benefits and opportunities to all schools, parents and students is also on the list, as is creating a way to determine school leaderships’ perceptions of CTE.
High school counselors will also be trained on how to properly schedule a CTE pathway so all classes are taken in order — an issue identified in the audit.
Safe crisis management
Safe Crisis Management covers some of the district’s most critical errors, including those in restraint and seclusion. JCPS had already been making changes under a previous corrective action plan put in place by former commissioner Stephen Pruitt.
School faculty and staff will receive professional development on restraint and seclusion, with each school having at least five staffers trained in SCM. School resource officers will also receive training on this subject, including proper interventions.
Special education is another area over which Lewis has final say.
Some of the changes cover ensuring correct data reporting, but most cover implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Schools will be regularly checked for “understanding and use of the continuum of services.”
More of the changes specifically deal with restraint and seclusion of disabled students, including more professional development.
Other IDEA changes:
- School administrators will receive regular training on documenting removals of students with disabilities.
- Ensure students who require special transportation have them available to them.
- Create a system to prevent inequitable school placements due to what services a student receives.
- Generally bolster support for students with individualized education plans.
Early childhood education
JCPS will create a system to ensure all early childhood programs are complaint with safety and health regulations. However, the plan outlines few additional changes outside of that.
Read the full corrective action plan below: