MADISONVILLE, Ky. — Hopkins County Board of Education was called on to investigate allegations of adjusting certain students' grades at Madisonville-North Hopkins High School Monday night.

The Rev. Robert Cottoner spoke to the board about a letter published recently by a local newspaper.

The letter was written by a MNHHS senior addressing an issue in the school among guidance counsellors, teachers and individuals held in high esteem within the school system that have gone to an extreme of doctoring grades so that individuals, who are well qualified, will not meet the criteria for valedictorian.

He said it is of great concern because citizens, administrators and those in charge of educating students, have dropped the ball.

“This determines scholarships and what schools will accept them,” said Cottoner. “You as board members should be going into the schools and ensuring the educators are doing their job.”

He asked the board to investigate the allegation.

“We as citizens expect the board do a thorough job in representing us,” he said.

Cottoner concluded by telling the board that if the accusation is not investigated, there are higher authorities.

Board Chairman Shannon Embry said he read the letter and he addressed the concern by visiting the school, and spoke with those accused, asked questions and looked at grades. He said he was assured there were no discrepancies and guaranteed that all students met the criteria.

“Anytime there are allegations,” Embry said, “as a board we need to know and we will investigate.”

The board announced Monday that Employee of the Year nominations will be accepted through June, 17.

Assistant Superintendent Deanna Ashby said nominations for 2015-2016 employees of the year are now being accepted. Teacher of the Year nominees must have a minimum of three years teaching experience. The Teachers of the Year will be selected in the categories of elementary, middle and high school.

Categories for Employee of the Year nominations are: Administrator of the Year, eligible nominees would include principals, assistant principals, central office administrators, and guidance counselors; Classified Support Services, eligible nominees would include instructional assistants who work in a classroom setting to enhance student achievement and Family Resource employees who provide student needs throughout the district; Facilities Management, eligible employees would include all custodians and district maintenance staff; Food Service, eligible nominees would include all cafeteria employees, cafeteria managers and district food service employees; Transportation, eligible nominees would include bus drivers, bus monitors, vehicle maintenance staff and district employees; Secretary of the Year, eligible employees would include all school and district secretaries.

Nomination forms are available on the school website and will be accepted through the close of business, 4 p.m., Friday, June 17. Nomination forms may be mailed to Employee of the Year, Hopkins County Schools, 320 S. Seminary Street, Madisonville, Ky. 42431. Attention: Kathy Gonzalez.

“We hope to get lots of nominations so we can recognize many great employees,” said Ashby.

Kellie Cotton and Rhonda Gordon, teachers at Pride Elementary, were named Instructional Employees for May.

“Cotton and Gordon launched Falcon News at Pride this year. They have given up planning periods each day and they stay after school each day to edit and add the special effects to the news program,” said Ashby. “They have taken the school to Disney, England, and state to state through Falcon News and the program fosters a family dynamic within the school. They arranged a field trip to a news station that offered wonderful PR for the school and district. They inspire Pride students.”

The board approved the following out of district, overnight or non-school sponsored events as requested by the principal of each school.

For Hopkins County-Central High School Archery team to travel by school bus to Louisville, May 13-14, for Jesse Stuart Elementary third grade to travel by school bus to Evansville, Ind., May 19, for Pride Elementary School first grade to travel by school bus to Evansville, May 19.

The board agreed to pay the following invoices:

•    George Patton Assoc. DBA DISPLAYS2GO, $1,471.88 for podiums for the Hopkins County Career and Technical Center.
•    Grainger, Inc., $916.30 for trash containers for the HCCTC.
•    Travis School Equipment, $15,521.98 for student desk flex stations for the business technology classrooms at the HCCTC.
•    VPS Architecture, $6,035.51 for architecture services for the restroom facilities at HCCHS softball/baseball fields.

The board approved for Hopkins County Day Treatment to apply for Department of Juvenile Justice, Kentucky Educational Collaborative for State Agency Children and Title I grants and approved for Child Nutrition-District Office to apply for the 2016 Fuel Up to Play 60 School Nutrition Equipment Grant up to $5,000. per school.

It was approved by the board to declare an emergency exists for the availability of certified and qualified applicants for substitute teachers, special education teachers, adjunct instructors and teachers for the 2016-17 school year. This will enable the Board to apply to the State Department of Education for recertification of emergency substitute teachers employed for the 2016-17 school year, for future adjunct instructors and emergency teachers if necessary to maintain a satisfactory number of qualified teachers and substitutes for the district.

It was recommended and approved to create four Itinerant Elementary Special Education Building Coach positions for the 2016-17 school year. The positions will be fully funded with IDEA-B Special Education monies.

It was approved to purchase property at 75 S. Railroad Street. As was reported previously that the board approved an option agreement for $190,000 with BHM Property Management for property located at 75 S. Railroad Street, Madisonville. The property was formerly occupied by Hopkins County Child Support Unit. Hopkins County Academy is currently housed in a building owned by Madisonville Community College and is located on the MCC tech campus.

Board Attorney Keith Cartwright said the option was originally for $190,000 but after property appraisal the option was adjusted to $163,000.

Assistant Superintendent Tommy Burrough said the process is to add any monies needed for renovations, furniture, new carpet or carpet cleaning, fiber for computers, WiFi and anything else they may do to the building.

Burrough said they are adding about $35,000 to the application for additions.

Plans are to start the new school year in the building, said Burrough.

The first reading of 2016-14 Code of Conduct was conducted and changes were discussed.

“Changes are pretty minimal,” said Ashby.

Embry asked a question regarding a change on “bringing outside food into the school.”

“We don’t allow students to bring in restaurant food, such as restaurant sandwiches and drinks, when they check in after appointments,” said Ashby. “Many kids cannot afford those kinds of things and she said, “we have to consider kids with allergies. We can’t have outside food coming in everyday because we would have numerous pizzas being delivered every day to the schools if we don’t monitor it.”

Embry said, “from a point-of-view of a parent, if I want to bring my kid a Subway sandwich, I should be able to bring my kid a Subway sandwich.”

Ashby said the Code of Conduct states, “in original packing.”

She said this is the first reading, so changes can still be made and the second reading of the COC will be at the next board meeting.

K-PREP testing dates are elementary- May 9-13; middle school - May 13 -20; and, high school - May 10-16.

There will be no school on Primary Election day May 17.

Hopkins County Academy Graduation at Browning Springs Middle School will be 7 p.m., Friday, May 20.

HCCHS graduation exercises will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 for baccalaureate; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 22 for awards; and 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 24 for graduation.

MNHHS graduation exercises will be 7 p.m. Monday, May 16 for awards; 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 18 for baccalaureate; and, 7 p.m. Monday, May 23 for graduation.

Last day for students will be Tuesday, May 24.

“Thanks to SKILLS the students can be out before Memorial Day,” said Ashby. “We are going to apply for SKILLS again for 2016-17.”
The next HCBOE meeting will be 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 16.

Hopkins County Schools and Hopkins County Regional Chamber of Commerce will host an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon May 3, and an Open House from 3-6 p.m. at the Hopkins County Career and Technology, 1775 Patriot Drive, Madisonville.

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