Thorns & Roses: The Worst, Best and Most Absurd (4/28)

Rose: JCPS Suspends Suspensions

Jefferson County Public Schools could be on track to permanently end suspensions for pre-kindergarten through third-grade students, the Courier Journal reported. A JCPS committee tasked with reviewing schools’ disciplinary policies is recommending the district make permanent a moratorium on out-of-school suspensions for the youngest students. The moratorium, which was put in place in March, stems from a 2018 CJ investigation that revealed a startling spike in suspensions between 2015 and 2018 — a 240% increase in just three years. First, these are kids — there is no excuse for out-of-school suspensions for kids as young as 4 years old (and up to 9). Second, and more telling, is who was being suspended: One in 11 Black students was suspended in 2018, while only one of 51 white students was suspended. Special-needs students comprised 30% of suspensions, while only making up 14% of the student body. 

Thorn: Fischer’s Budget Practically Ignores Protests

Mayor Greg Fischer revealed his proposed budget — his first since 2020’s social justice movement and calls from some to defund or disband the police. “The notion of defunding the police is not practical,” Fischer said as part of his budget announcement. True, it’s not practical. But so is continuing to do the same thing over and over and expecting a different result — in fact, some would say that’s the definition of insanity. Fischer’s only attempt at police reform is a “deflection” pilot project, wherein the response to certain emergency calls would be made by non-police professionals instead of police officers — mental health professionals, social workers, etc. Of course this is the right thing to do (it’s more obvious than ingenious), but why is it just a pilot project? In the category of “I’m not a scientist, but…,” we don’t know how much is enough, but this should be a massive, permanent change to LMPD. One of many. Fischer’s obsession with practicality is practically insulting… and dangerous. 

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Rose: Justice Department Steps In

Speaking of practicality: How does anyone expect a corrupt, rotten police department to reform itself? Wonder no more. U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced this week that the Department of Justice is opening an investigation into civil rights abuses by Louisville police. The feds will determine whether… rather, how… LMPD has systemically violated constitutional rights of people in this community, including officers’ use of force abuses, unlawful traffic stops and unwarranted searches and seizures of people’s homes and First Amendment violations (among other shitty policing practices). Not to say “we told you so,” but LEO called this: in the Oct. 14, 2020 issue, Executive Editor Aaron Yarmuth wrote “Feds Must Step In To Remake LMPD.”

Thorn: Pay Up, Churchill 

Churchill Downs is fighting with a group of its highly skilled employees the week of Derby, which isn’t a good look before the biggest race of the year. The Licensed Racing Valets, who saddle the racehorses at Churchill and make sure they are compliant with regulations, are protesting, claiming they are still without a contract after months of negotiations with the track. They have also warned of labor disruptions on Derby. Don Vest, President of the union SEIU Local 541, said: “Churchill Downs is so greedy that they’d rather threaten the Derby experience for millions of people and deprive local businesses of much-needed revenue than pay workers a modest amount of money that the CEO makes before he finishes his morning cup of coffee.”

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