There’s a new billboard on Park Avenue by Paducah Ford just before heading across the railroad overpass leading to Kentucky Oaks Mall. The billboard is calling for the termination of Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Donald Shively.
The billboard shows the photo of Shively in blackface while attending a Halloween party in 2002. In addition to blackface, Shively is wearing a gold chain, gold teeth, a do-rag and a Paducah Tilghman football shirt. At the time the picture was taken, Shively was a teacher at PTHS.
The photograph first circulated on social media in mid-October. Parents, members of the community, and the Paducah/McCracken NAACP Chapter members were very offended by the racially-insensitive photo. In fact, the Paducah School Board members called it ‘shocking’ in a statement released on Friday, December 11.
Less than two months ago, the Board engaged in several closed meetings to discuss Shively's actions. Open meetings were held as well to address the concerns and feelings of the students, parents and members of the community. The virtual meetings were meant to create a meaningful dialogue about racial inequality and injustices and to voice opinions on the matter.
After an executive meeting this past Friday, the Board voted to request that Superintendent Shively take a 40 day unpaid leave of absence and said he must undergo diversity training.
Shively has apologized numerous times since the photo was released. He has asked for forgiveness and has said he realizes the hurt caused to so many. The Board and many others believe in his sincerity and willingness to work hard to make things right.
Some people said it wasn’t enough. On the Facebook page of Andiomo White, he said, “When you go to the mall or Walmart today, look over at the billboard by the Ford Dealership. 40 Days is not enough and we won’t stop.”
The sign said that it's paid for by All of Us or None Louisville in partnership with the Community Coalition to End Racial Insensitivity in Education. In the same post on White’s Facebook page one of the comments asked, ‘Shouldn’t it say paid for by the parents and citizens?’ The billboard cost this group $825 and was placed to get a reaction.
Additionally, one of White’s Facebook friends said they were going to ‘push’ the story. It appears a message was sent to Shaun King, a Brooklyn based writer/activist that focuses on civil and human rights, racial injustice, and other similar matters. He’s the co-founder of Real Justice PAC. King uses social media to promote social justice causes.
On one of the local television anchors Facebook posts, the community is weighing in on the situation. Some have said things like, 'this is embarrassing Paducah, let the legal system handle this matter.' In response to this post, one of the comments said, 'What's embarrassing is having someone in our school system like Shively continue to teach our kids.' Feelings are mixed on this issue and it doesn't look like the pressure will let up anytime soon.
The racially insensitive Halloween photo translates into 40 days of unpaid leave
The Paducah Public Schools Board of Education released a public statement Friday, December 11 regarding Dr. Donald Shively and his current state of employment. Before reading the document in its entirety, School Board Chair Dr. Carl Lebuhn said, “Obviously, we’ve been through a lot the last couple of months. I’m going to read a statement from the Board. It’s three pages long.”
Click here to read the statement in its entirety. Paducah Board of Education Statement concerning Dr. Donald Shively.
After an executive meeting on Friday, The Paducah Board of Education voted to request that Superintendent Shively take 40 days of unpaid leave to obtain education, training, and community involvement on racial inequality.
On October 20, 2020 a photo of Shively began circulating on social media that was offensive, inappropriate and shocking (the Boards word). The picture was taken of Shively and a female companion in blackface at a Halloween party two decades ago. Shively was wearing a Paducah Tilghman football jersey, do-rag, and a gold chain around his neck.
Members of the Board were told by Shively in 2019 that the photo existed, however, Dr. Lebuhn read in his statement that none of the board members saw the actual photo at the time. In the statement it said, “The board members had their first opportunity to see the photo simultaneously with the public and the internet community when it was posted on social media October 20, 2020.”
The motion for the leave of absence was made by vice chairman Dr. Felix Akojie and seconded by board member Mary Hunter Hancock. The remaining board members voted yes for the unpaid leave with the exception of Dr. James Hudson who abstained.
This meeting occurred one day after hearing renewed calls from the Paducah/McCracken County Chapter of the NAACP asking for Shively’s resignation. It has been seven weeks since the local NAACP chapter first requested his removal after seeing the blackface photo appear on social media.
On Thursday, president of the local NAACP chapter J.W. Cleary said in a statement, “Since October of this year, Paducah Public Schools has been embroiled in the blackface incident regarding Dr. Shively. The Paducah Board of Education has met several times under closed executive session and has not provided any updates in regard to their decision on this very serious measure matter.”
“While understanding the executive sessions are classified and closed to the public, we are still calling for the resignation of Dr. Shively. We see it as the only viable way the district, its students, and the community can move forward.” The resignation of Shively isn’t the only interest of Cleary’s. The NAACP outlined seven steps it would like to see the Board initiate. (The seven steps are at the bottom of the article).
Around the time of the released statement from Cleary, the board members had announced a special meeting in executive session set for 4 pm on Friday at the Paducah Innovation Hub.
The 40 days of unpaid leave will consist of 20 days to be taken during the current school year and the remaining 20 days to be taken the following school year or 2021-2022.
In the statement from the Board, Shively will remain in his current role, but the Board’s evaluation of Shively should ‘focus more closely on his progress on areas such as cultural and racial sensitivity, empathetic communication, keener recognition of implicit bias, and a deeper understanding of issues concerning minority groups.’
The 40 days of unpaid leave is for Dr. Shively to attend training sessions in these areas determined by the Board, the Kentucky Educators Association, local leaders, and others.
To further assure the community that the Board is working to address equity and diversity issues, a contract is proposed to engage the University of Kentucky’s Education and Civil Rights Initiative to come up with a plan for the Paducah Public School District.
The seven steps requested by the Paducah/McCracken County NAACP Chapter:
Conduct an independent cultural audit of its schools.
Provide annual mandatory implicit bias and racial sensitivity training.
Commit to diverse hiring at all levels.
Conduct an annual review of student practices that demonstrate equity in closing the achievement gap.
Commit to training diverse candidates for leadership positions.
Employ a district diversity and inclusion officer to focus on recruiting minority candidates.
Christmas in the Trees reversible parade in Paducah, Kentucky happening December 5 from 5:30 pm to 9:30 pm. Floats to have music, lights and decorated Christmas trees.
The reversible parade is happening in Paducah on December 5 and there's no better time to get your group together and plan for a COVID-19 socially-distanced Christmas event. The Parks and Recreation Department in Paducah is accepting applications for your float entry which will take place in the middle of town at Bob Noble Park in Paducah.
What is a reverse parade or an inverted parade? It's a stationary parade. Instead of the floats passing by excited parade goers on the street, the public will drive-by the floats.
There's a limit to the number of floats to keep CDC compliant. Once entries top 42, that's it. The deadline is November 30 at 5 pm to fill out the submission forms and participate as a parade float.
On Saturday, December 5, the drive-thru parade begins at 5:30 pm and ends at 9:30 pm. The entire community is invited to view the sparkling event. If you're familiar with the Christmas lights and decorations inside Noble Park and the whimsical characters and child-like fun, imagine the excitement it will bring to all those that attend on Saturday.
Attendees will enter the park at H.C. Mathis Drive and continue through Noble Park to exit at Cairo Road. The floats will be lined up along Noble Park Trace Road. There will be a balloon display as well. Fascinating balloon creations will greet you at the entrance and say goodbye as you exit the park. And, Santa Claus will be checking his naughty and nice list as well as making a special appearance.
Some of the float requirements include music, lights, and a Christmas tree. There's no electricity on site so floats will need to be powered by generators. The judging for the parade entries will be at 4 p.m. on December 5 with the following float categories: themed, religious, school, and musical.
The full list of guidelines and the application to enter a float for the Christmas in the Trees event can be found at http://paducahky.gov/christmas-float-event. For more information about Parks Department-related activities, call 270-444-8508 or visit us online at www.paducahky.gov.
At least 100 protestors gathered Sunday at PTHS demanding Superintendent Shively's removal
The ongoing protest demanding to remove Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Donald Shively and members of the board of education continued Sunday at Paducah Tlighman High School in Paducah, Kentucky. Approximately 100 protestors marched in front of the high school with signs calling for removal and to get out and vote.
The protests and marches stem from a photo that circulated on social media a couple of weeks ago picturing Shively and one other in blackface at a Halloween party in 2002. Shively was wearing a Paducah Tilghman Tornado shirt, gold chain around his neck, and a do-rag. The woman in the picture had an Afro hairstyle and a padded bottom. The caricatures representing African-American students have upset students, parents, and the community.
Robert Shy, founder of 3E Leadership Academy was at the protest and shared his thoughts with WKY Community Living. The Academy is an organization that’s goal is to increase the academic level of students in Paducah and surrounding areas. It’s focus is to help students prepare for college or any post-secondary educational institutions.
“Many of Dr. Shively’s supporters state they want him to stay because he has brought many diversity programs to the district and student achievement has increased. That was going to happen regardless of who was in charge because the percentage of minority students has increased tremendously over the last seven years. The achievement increases are faux.” said Shy.
“There’s a school within a school at Paducah Middle School and Paducah Tilghman. There’s a school for the middle class and well-to-do students and there’s a school for the poor and African-American students. There’s tremendous segregation within our segregated schools and African-American students aren’t performing well. The achievement gap has increased. The Nation’s Report Card which is a great evaluation of state’s and school districts backs this statement up.”
Shy believes that if the sole purpose to keep Shively on as superintendent is because he’s helped advance African-American students academically, that’s simply not the case and he should be removed from his position.
The leader of the protest was Martaj Marks, a recent Paducah Tilghman graduate. Melinda Jones, a former employee of the Paducah Public Schools was also an organizer of Sunday’s march.
Speakers at the event were Martaj Marks, parents Melinda Jones, Randy and Michelle Marshall and several high school students. Both black and white students represented those in favor of dismissal.
According to Shy, there were no opposing parties at the march. He said the main message from the gathering was that ‘kids are being failed by the superintendent and the board of education. Both need to resign.’
It's the battle of the petitions 'to keep' or 'dismiss' Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Donald Shively
Photo of Paducah Tilghman High School property in Paducah, Kentucky
It’s the battle of the petitions on change.org. After the blackface Halloween photo of Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Donald Shively circulated on social media more than a week ago, a petition started calling for the ‘Immediate Removal of Superintendent Donald Shively and Elected Members of the Board.’ Now, there’s a petition ‘To Keep Dr. Donald Shively as Superintendent of Paducah Public Schools.”
The photo that was taken in 2002 pictured Shively in blackface, Paducah Tilghman shirt and a gold chain around his neck. The other person in the photo was a woman in blackface, Afro hairstyle, and a padded bottom. Since the photo’s release on social media, there has been an outcry from Paducah Public Schools parents, students, and the Paducah-McCracken County NAACP calling for the superintendent’s resignation.
There have been student walk-outs and parent protests demanding Shively be fired. Students of Paducah Tilghman High School had a meeting with Shively only days ago. Parents weren’t allowed in the meeting. No word on the content or mood of the meeting.
The local chapter of the NAACP met with Shively for several hours a few days ago. Their minds are made up...they want him gone along with members of the Board of Education.
As it stands, The ‘Immediate Removal’ petition has nearly 1,700 signatures. The ‘Keep Shively’ petition is getting closer to 1,000 signatures. What does all this mean for the school district? Time will tell.
The ‘To Keep’ petition states: Dr. Donald Shively has maintained the legacy and the Academic Excellence that the Paducah City Schools have accomplished over the years. Please sign our petition to keep Dr. Donald Shively as the Superintendent of the Paducah City School System. Your signature will be greatly appreciated. The students and the people of Paducah need the guidance that he is able to provide to allow our students in Paducah to compete as they move forward in their lives.
The “Get rid of’ states: A picture has surfaced of Superintendent Dr. Donald Shively and his ex wife Heather Knott Shively dressed in blackface displaying themselves lampooning African-Americans. It is unfitting that someone in his position or any learned member of our community display such racially insensitive actions towards the demographic of humans that he has been assigned to lead. We feel that immediate removal of Dr. Donald Shively and board members is the only appropriate measure to move forward and begin the healing process, this is a violation of EPSB standards of behavior that governs educators. These actions must be held accountable, the board has blatantly disregarded the voices of the community and we call for immediate removal of all seated members including Dr. Donald Shively.
Superintendent Shively has shared with students, parents, the school district, and the community just how sorry he is about his 2002 decision to dress in such a fashion. He said the photograph is terribly offensive. In an interview with another news service, Shively apologized and stated that he knows there’s a lot to be done to help the community heal.
In a statement, Shively wrote, “My goal is that this extensive process not only will help me to grow as a person and as a leader, but that it also will serve as a catalyst for improved understanding, sensitivity, and racial harmony in our community.”
Both sides are fighting for what they believe is right. No one is a winner here. We know the goal of both parties, it’s very clearly stated on the petitions.
This Sunday is a planned protest asking for Shively and the board members’ jobs. The protest is to take place in front of Paducah Tilghman High School at 1 pm. The organizer has been speaking with a group from Louisville regarding their participation in Sunday’s protest.
There’s much more to take away from this incident than a photo from a party almost two decades ago. Communities are hurting. The racial divide is as wide as a river and deep as an ocean. Keeping a dialogue open will help. The protest planned for Sunday is said to be a peaceful demonstration. Let’s hope so.
Paducah - McCracken County NAACP Facebook page profile picture
Members of the community are in the process of signing a petition for the immediate removal of Superintendent Donald Shively and elected members of the Board of Education. The petition, posted on the Paducah/McCracken County NAACP Facebook page, set a goal of 1,500 signatures. After posting the petition Tuesday morning, 1,140 signatures have been collected.
The petition, started by Savvy Shabazz, is in response to a photo that circulated on social media last week. The photo was a picture of Shively in blackface wearing a Paducah Tilghman shirt and gold chain around his neck. He was accompanied by a woman in blackface with an Afro hairstyle and padded bottom. The picture was taken in 2002 while Shively was a teacher at Paducah Tilghman High School.
According to reports and posts/tweets on the petition, students and parents of the Paducah Public Schools believe their voices aren't being heard. The group of petitioners believe the removal of Shively and the board is the only way for healing to begin.
Some of the comments posted on the petition include:
"When he made the decision to dress as black face he was already in an education system by 2006 he was already teaching at Paducah Tilghman High School as a chemistry teacher and football coach, he was teaching the very kids you made a mockery out of. How does he expect us to respect him and accept you apology? During this time in 2006 or 2002 whenever the photo was taken, he knew it was wrong!" India Broady
"His behavior was not only highly offensive but violates the code of ethics by having on school apparel while promoting alcohol use.' Brendae McClure
There are a number of comments like this on the petition website. If you're interested in reading more comments, go to the Paducah/McCracken County Facebook page.
President JW Cleary released a statement earlier today:
Today members of the Paducah McCracken County NAACP met with Dr. Donald Shively. Among those present were the NAACP President, NAACP members, a retired educator, community member, and parent representative. We met for approximately two hours to discuss the superintendent's blackface photo incident. Our stand has not changed, we are still calling for the resignation of the superintendent. During the course of the meeting, Dr. Shively gave no indication the he intends to resign. We have requested to meet with members of the Board of Education as soon as possible to discuss the matter further.