For reasons known only to her, Dr. Hargens has alienated and gotten rid of many long time talented employees, and outsourced key functions for reasons that were proven to be false. She's also continually looked outside of JCPS to find employees to fill key roles.
These questionable actions reached a critical point with the April 2016 salary study. As indicated in the documentation of the salary study work session, her office convened a "Community Advisory Team" for the salary study consisting primarily of her staff and area business leaders and attorneys (including one known for union busting). This team used the pretense of two audits that found JCPS' central office staff too top heavy with high salaries as a way of attacking the benefits and increases of rank and file teachers and staff.
After the salary study blew up into justifiable teacher and staff outrage, Dr. Hargens wrote an editorial saying 'teachers are valued". She also stated (emphasis mine):
The CAT members also observed that the district might consider foregoing steps and cost-of-living increases for the upcoming budget cycle as JCPS determines the best path forward to achieve internal and external equity. No recommendations have been made. No action is being requested. There is no item on the agenda for the May 10 board meeting regarding this issue, and any proposals would be subject to union negotiations.
Those sound like specific recommendations, with a specific date of May 10th, to me. And they also sound like what I'm hearing coming out of the negotiations with the JCTA. So why misrepresent them in your editorial?
Additionally, why does Dr. Hargens not indicate that members of her staff were on the Community Advisory Team in that same editorial? Why does she not mention the participation of attorneys, including Jim Smith, who the JCTA recently noted was "anti-union". How exactly was this Community Advisory Team chosen?
Were their meetings open to the public? Where were representatives of the community of parents, students, and educators who would directly feel the impacts of these recommendations? Do those constituencies take a back seat to the business community?
The JCPS Board of Education indicated in its 6/28/16 evaluation of Dr. Hargens that one of her key objectives was to "(d)evelop an internal culture that is structured around high-performing teams, values collaboration, and fosters an atmosphere of trust" and noted "Board members have observed, via constituent communication and survey data, an internal culture where collaboration and participation are not ingrained and the erosion of trust in District leadership is sapping morale."
In spite of this admonition, Dr. Hargens and her team have continued to pursue what appears to be an adversarial approach to negotiating contracts with employees, leading to all four unions drafting a letter to the school board objecting to her approach.
I have said it before and I will say it again. I am a JCPS parent. I am happy with the experience my daughter has had in JCPS. The teachers and staff that she and we as parents have encountered have been kind, caring, and dedicated professionals. They DESERVE the pay they receive and the increases and benefits they have in their contract. I have spent over a year watching Dr. Hargens hear story after story from teachers, parents, and students about legitimate concerns they have that appear to have little or no resolution. That Dr. Hargens and whoever is advising her have deliberately misrepresented their own actions to undermine the pay and typical negotiations with JCPS' employees should be a red flag to our Board of Education. It is time for them to hold Dr. Hargens accountable for rebuilding the very trust they told her less than two months ago she had let erode, and to show teachers and staff that they are truly valued now and in the future. If the board cannot or will not do this, then it is time for the parents, students, and those who value our JCPS experience to go to the ballot box and find people who will.