Correction: In the original publication of this letter, the author claimed that Perry County School District Superintendent Jonathan Jett had pleaded guilty to charges brought before the Educational Professionals Standards Board relating to his possible involvement in a cheating scandal in the Perry County School District in 2010. Jett actually pleaded “no contest” to the charges, meaning he admitted no guilt and accepted the punishment given to him by the board, which included an 18-month teaching certification suspension and a ban from administering any mandated testing in the school system.
The Herald apologizes for any inconvenience or confusion this may have caused any parties.
I suspect many of us read with interest and amusement the letter submitted by former Perry superintendent John Paul Amis, who reports all the glowing improvements he observed in Perry Schools after being away for 180 days. He kindly, to himself, neglects to point out that less than two short years ago; he was forced out, leaving the Perry School district in a total shamble. His letter clearly reflects his unspoken opinion of our intelligence. It also shows his desperation to somehow again be relevant locally.
One could also conclude from his rather brief stay in the “show me” state that Missouri still honors that tradition.
In the real world, you recently reported that his replacement, Jonathan Jett, has had full powers restored by the Kentucky Department of Education, obviously indicating that he can now legally enter Perry schools while testing is going on. This ruling was clearly the final resolution by KDE regarding the 2010 Perry Schools cheating scandal which resulted in Mr. Jett’s being decertified and banned from approaching student testing, after he pleaded no contest to involvement in the changing of student answers on state achievement testing. Mr. Jett, the testing coordinator, along with Mr. Amis, oversaw a testing performance ranking among the lowest in the state after true scores were reported. Scores so low, in fact, that Perry Central Principal Estill Neace was ousted and replaced, and a special-help state management team was brought in with a near million dollar payout over three years for their services. Notwithstanding, Jett shortly became the interim superintendent after the forced retirement of John Paul Amis and soon thereafter, was awarded a four-year contract.
A few weeks ago, you reported the raiding and “busting” of a meth lab or labs, with arrests, in an apartment complex in the Christopher area owned by-you guessed it!- Superintendent Jonathan Jett. Subsequently, on Friday afternoon, May 23, in Perry County Circuit Court, a jury was being chosen to hear the case of a suit against an employee of the Perry schools involving a bus/car accident, was given a recess during the jury selection. When the potential jurors returned, a mistrial was declared after it was reported to the judge that Superintendent Jonathan Jett had approached and communicated with jurors during the brief recess - this by the chief executive of Perry schools in an ongoing lawsuit against that institution. Factually stated, that rises to the level of criminal behavior, which logically becomes, under the purview of the Commonwealth Attorney, a matter to be presented to the local grand jury, which, by the way, convenes for its monthly meeting on June 13.
Having said that, the question arises - at what point do members of a school board conclude, “This individual is unfit for leadership?” From a field of 30 other qualified candidates from here to New Mexico, Mr. Jett was selected, (still under the cloud of the testing scandal and the state ban) for the position.
On Friday, May 30, KDE Office of Educational Accountability (OEA) officials came to town to question members of the board regarding an alleged illegal meeting of three members in the central office parking lot after the meeting at which the names of five superintendent-finalists were handed to the board - the same meeting that led to James Ritchie resigning in protest and contacting OEA.
Finally, with results of that “investigation” still pending, we are too keenly aware that some bodies on the board may change, but the brazen presumption of immunity to consequences remains the same. Tragically, it does appear to be well-founded. With Perry schools’ administration more like musical chairs than chess, (in which losing players are permanently retired from the field,) bear in mind the December 2012 sudden departure of Principal Scott Brown from Robinson School. Also, with retirees permitted to re-employ in the system at 75 percent of full pay at retirement, expect John Paul Amis to resurface soon in the district in some capacity.
Eddie N. Campbell,
Lost Creek, Ky.