Education

Simpson County Schools

The Simpson County School District is seeing a rise in the number of students who don’t speak English as their native language.

The overall percentage of the district’s 3,000 students who don't speak English as their first language remains small, but has more than doubled in the last couple of years.

Superintendent Jim Flynn said the need to add staff for those students became clear.

“We’ve really increased from probably having about 15 or 20 students to now we’re somewhere between 40 and 50 students.”

The district has added another teacher this academic year for English Language Learners, to go along with another part-time teacher working with ELL students.

Flynn said the ELL teachers travel among the county schools from pre-K through high school. He says some of the students they help have had breaks in their formal education.

James Ramsey Resigns From U of L Foundation

Sep 16, 2016
J. Tyler Franklin

The embattled former president of the University of Louisville stepped down Friday from his second job as president of the university’s foundation.

James Ramsey said in a letter distributed by the foundation board that he voluntarily resigned as university president — “although my contract allowed me to stay in that position until 2020” — because he and his wife have been considering retirement for some time. Ramsey stepped down in June via a $690,000 buyout but signaled no intentions to leave his foundation role.

The letter stated that Ramsey would also leave his foundation role to pursue retirement on a date convenient to the board, “no later than Jan. 1, 2017,” but board chairman Bob Hughes said the resignation is effective Friday — and with no additional payments.

Ramsey’s resignation and a few other actions are enough to hold off any lawsuit for now, said U of L board chair Larry Benz. Benz had threatened to file suit against the foundation for withholding records he sought but laid out a “pathway to restored confidence” he said would prevent that lawsuit.

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Fifteen journalism and media faculty members from the University of Kentucky are asking university President Eli Capilouto to apologize and drop the university's open records lawsuit against the student paper.

Al Cross, who signed the letter, said it was delivered to Capilouto on Thursday afternoon.

The university is suing the Kentucky Kernel, which sought documents relating to a sexual assault investigation involving a former professor.

The letter to Capilouto said his remark last week to the board of trustees that the newspaper published "salacious details to attract readers" challenged the paper's reputation and that of its editor and "cast aspersions on journalism faculty."

University spokesman Jay Blanton said while the concerns are appreciated, the disagreement is about the privacy of victims and is rightly being determined in court.

Ryland Barton

Students at the University of Louisville could lose federal financial aid and the ability to transfer class credits if the school loses its accreditation. That’s what the attorney general and an expert witness warn will happen if Gov. Matt Bevin is allowed to unilaterally overhaul the school’s governing body.

The governor’s office argues that U of L is not immediately at risk of losing its accreditation and that a lawsuit over the matter will be settled by the time the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools could impose any sanctions, settling whether the governor has the authority to abolish and restructure a university board without legislative approval.

Steve Pitt, the governor’s general counsel, said there’s no legal reason the school has to be accredited, but he still downplayed worries that U of L could lose its accreditation

“There is no statute in Kentucky, oddly enough, that even requires public universities to even be accredited,” Pitt said. “I think you’ll see that there’s a lot more smoke here than there is fire.”

J. Tyler Franklin

WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting has filed a lawsuit against the University of Louisville Foundation, the latest step in an ongoing public records fight.

The Foundation, led by former U of L President James Ramsey, manages the university’s some $700 million endowment.

The suit, filed Thursday in Jefferson Circuit Court, seeks an injunction to force the Foundation. to release ethics and disclosure forms, along with payroll and financial documents first requested by KyCIR in February.

The Foundation has resisted releasing the documents, saying the records requests were burdensome because they were “overly broad and blanket in nature.”

Glasgow Independent Schools

The Glasgow Independent School Board has finalized a contract with its new superintendent.

The Bowling Green Daily News reports current Glasgow High School principal, Keith Hale, will take over as superintendent on July 1, 2017.

His salary will be $115,750.

The start date next summer allows Hale time to finish out the academic year at the high school without disruption for students. It also gives the school district time to search for a new high school principal.

The school district is currently run by interim superintendent Larry Hammond, the former superintendent of Rockcastle County Schools.

J. Tyler Franklin

Facing growing scrutiny from donors and its own university, the University of Louisville Foundation is paying $11,500 a month in retainers alone for external public relations firms.

In contract proposals submitted in July, the firms shed light on strategies they intended to employ to combat rampant criticism of the Foundation.

The documents, obtained by WFPL’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, suggest the Foundation is gearing up to try to counter negative stories in the press and highlight achievements of its president, James Ramsey, during his 14-year tenure.

Last month, Foundation staffers signed contract extensions for two Louisville firms: RunSwitch Public Relations, led by political strategist Scott Jennings, and Tandem Public Relations, led by Sandra Frazier. Both contracts were extended as of Sept. 1.

WKU

The president of Western Kentucky University is denouncing what he calls a pair of “cowardly” and “heinous” acts involving hate speech against African-Americans.

An assistant dean recently reported finding three typed notes in her office that contained racist threats. A student last month had a racist slur carved into her car following a dispute over a campus parking space.

WKU President Gary Ransdell denounced the acts in an email to faculty, staff, and students Monday.

Read President Ransdell's Message Here

He said the two incidents are not reflective of the majority of students and employees at the school.

University of Louisville

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan will be honored this week by the University of Louisville law school.

Kagan will receive the 2016 Brandeis Medal. It’s named for Louis Brandeis, a former justice and law school namesake.

She’ll be in Louisville Thursday, when she’s scheduled to place a wreath at Brandeis’ gravesite at the law school.  Kagan will receive the medal at an evening ceremony at the Seelbach Hotel.

Law school dean Susan Duncan says that’s when Kagan will be interviewed by one of her protégés.

“The person who will be conversing with her, interviewing her is a professor named Justin Walker, who was actually her law student when she was the dean at Harvard,” says Duncan. “And he is a former Supreme Court clerk himself.”

WKU

Western Kentucky University police are investigating a complaint that threatening notes containing racist language were found in a school employee’s office.

Michelle Jones is the assistant dean of the University College.

The WKU College Heights Herald reports Jones says she found three separate messages that appeared to be slid underneath the door of her South Campus office. Jones says the documents were typed and targeted her for being African-American.

A WKU Police sergeant told the paper the department is conducting an investigation, and plans to interview employees who work near Jones’ office to see if they saw anything related to the messages.

Jones says she hopes whoever is responsible for the threatening notes is found and punished.

She says it’s important for the school to send a message that the kinds of language and threats made in the notes won’t be tolerated.

J. Tyler Franklin

In an effort to clean up a “culture of secrecy,” the University of Louisville Board of Trustees voted Friday to potentially sue its own foundation.

Trustees authorized Chairman Larry Benz to work with outside lawyers to prepare and initiate a lawsuit against the University of Louisville Foundation if they don’t follow a “pathway toward restored confidence” Benz laid out after the meeting. With numerous members of the board and acting President Neville Pinto standing behind him, Benz said upwards of 70 donors have contacted the university to demand drastic change before giving another dime to the foundation.

“Their message has been convincing and consistent: Clean up the Foundation,” Benz said. “It is an eyesore for the community.”

Trustee Bob Hughes, who is also chairman of the Foundation, abstained from voting. The only vote against the measure was from Ron Butt, who called it divisive and said he would resign his seat, effective Friday.

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The president of the University of Kentucky says he’s confident higher education leaders will be able to finalize a performance-based funding model.

The state’s publicly supported colleges and universities are working on a plan to base a percentage of each school’s funding on certain metrics. The plan was ordered by Governor Matt Bevin.

UK President Eli Capilouto says degree productivity is a measure he thinks will play a big role in determining performance-based funding.

“I personally believe that the degree is the most important outcome, and funding should follow our success in awarding a degree,” Capilouto told WKU Public Radio during an interview Thursday.

Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

A former presidential candidate and publishing executive is speaking on the campus of Western Kentucky University Thursday afternoon.  

Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-In-Chief of Forbes Media. He ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996 and 2000.

Forbes is giving a lecture called, “How Capitalism Will Save Us”.

Sponsors of the talk include the WKU BB&T Center for the Study of Capitalism, and the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

The event begins at 3:30pm Thursday, in the Grise Hall Auditorium. It’s free and open to the public.

Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear is trying to join a student newspaper in its defense against the University of Kentucky, which is suing the paper over an open records request dealing with sexual assault allegations against a professor.

UK has denied the records, citing federal law that requires the university to keep the identity of sexual assault victims confidential.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Beshear said the school has taken an “irresponsible position” in withholding the records and refusing to allow the attorney general to review the documents.

“UK’s lawsuit would create a silver bullet that would allow any bad actor to entirely avoid open records laws,” Beshear said. “What does it say that the institutions that we trust to educate our kids, that are supposed to push for high ideals, seek knowledge and search for the truth are the ones that are hiding it?”

WKMS

Murray State University President Bob Davies is addressing public concern over the presence of a controversial political group on campus last week.

On Aug 31, members of the Traditionalist Workers Party paid for and registered a table in the university’s Curris Center for recruiting efforts. MSU students say they’ve also seen TWP propaganda on campus since the start of the school year.

While members of the TWP on campus say they aren’t a white supremacist group, the Southern Poverty Law Center labels them as a “white nationalist hate group” with a rhetorical link to alt-right, white supremacy organizations.

TWP also made headlines earlier this summer when a dispute with anti-facist protestors turned violent outside the California state capitol, resulting in several people being stabbed.

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