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JCTA member removed from board after contesting union election results

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio  with JCTA president Brent McKim Friday.
Jess Clark
JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio with JCTA president Brent McKim.

A member of the state’s largest teachers union was ousted from her Jefferson County Teachers Association leadership position for alleged disloyalty to the union during her campaign.

Jefferson County Public Schools teacher Kenyata Dean-Bacon was kicked off the board of the district’s teacher’s union Thursday night. Documents obtained by LPM News show Dean-Bacon was removed from the Jefferson County Teachers Association Board of Directors over the content of her campaign materials and posts a supporter made online during her bid for JCTA president in 2024.

Dean-Bacon said she believes the removal is retaliation for contesting the JCTA election results and speaking out against union leadership.

“It’s hurtful,” Dean-Bacon told LPM.

A contested union election

Documents show Dean-Bacon contested the February results of this year’s JCTA elections, which JCTA leaders say was won by the organization’s current treasurer Maddie Shepard.

Dean-Bacon challenged the results and requested a “by-hand recount” on the basis of several allegations, including software errors and the lack of a consistent rationale for throwing out ballots. She also alleges that about 10% of ballots were reviewed and counted by JCTA staff prior to observers being present, and that when observers asked for those ballots to be displayed, staff could not produce them.

Dean-Bacon said 347 ballots were pre-counted and lost. She lost to Shepard by a margin of 894 votes.

Emails show the JCTA’s Credentials and Elections Committee met to consider Dean-Bacon’s request for a recount but determined that it “did not meet the grounds for a challenge under JCTA’s Election Procedures.”

“I stand by the fact that we don’t know what the votes were,” Dean-Bacon said Friday.

Allegations against Dean-Bacon

A copy of the petition to remove Dean-Bacon from the JCTA board shows the teacher faced 10 violations of “fiduciary duty,” including the “duty of loyalty” to JCTA. Union bylaws, rules, proceeds and documentation are all closely guarded secrets; members can face consequences for sharing them.

The alleged violations mostly stem from Dean-Bacon’s online campaign for JCTA president and its ties to a PAC connected to local activist Gay Adelmann. Adelmann is a persistent critic of JCTA's leadership and its longtime president Brent McKim.

McKim, who has held the JCTA presidency since 2001, did not run for reelection and is retiring in July.

Evidence compiled in a petition to recall Dean-Bacon shows that her campaign page encouraged supporters to donate to Justice for the People PAC. That PAC is chaired by Adelmann's husband, Chris Adelmann, and is sponsored by Gay Adelmann's nonprofit Dear JCPS. The petition says Adelmann’s PAC was started specifically to compete with the union’s PAC Better Schools Kentucky, or BSK.

“Ms. Dean Bacon violated her duty of loyalty by advancing the interests of a third party over the interests of [JCTA] by using her TeamKenyata.com campaign web site to encourage JCTA members to drop their BSK membership and instead contribute to the Justice for the People PAC, a competing PAC that was established specifically to compete with BSK,” the petition reads.

The petition also alleges that using PAC funds for her union leadership campaign was not legal, citing the Kentucky Register of Election Finance guidebook.

In addition, the recall petition cites numerous online remarks by Adelmann as evidence of Dean-Bacon’s wrongdoing. Most of those statements against current JCTA leadership were on a webpage run by Adelmann. Adelmann’s webpage could be accessed by clicking through a link on Dean-Bacon’s campaign page promising more information on the Justice for the People PAC.

Dean-Bacon said Adelmann was “not representative” of her.

“I can be the only representative of me,” she said.

Adelmann did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The petition also called for Dean-Bacon’s recall over her alleged violation of a bylaw that prevents board members from speaking out against board decisions after they have been passed.

In an email, McKim said that the petition was reviewed by three JCTA board members who agreed that “nine of the ten violations of fiduciary duty were substantiated.” He would not share which violation was not found to be substantiated.

McKim said a separate five-member review team then agreed the petition mets the grounds for recall, sending it onto the board. The board had the two-thirds majority it needed to remove her.

At least one board member, Ivonne Rovira, told LPM she resigned over the decision.

Dean-Bacon said she submitted her resignation before the board took the vote, but the board went forward with the removal proceedings anyway. She added that the board's decision bars her from running for a leadership position for five years, under a recently updated bylaw.

This story has been updated to reflect that Justice For the People PAC is chaired by Gay Adelmann's husband, Chris Adelmann, and not Gay Adelmann herself.

Jess Clark is LPMs Education and Learning Reporter. Email Jess at jclark@lpm.org.

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