Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Donald Shively addressing the school board members and the community virtually from his home after testing positive for COVID-19.
The Paducah Independent School District Board of Education called a special meeting Monday evening to hear parent/community comments regarding Superintendent Shively as well as listen to Shively address the board and concerned parents/citizens.
After the special meeting, a regular meeting followed. Due to COVID-19, the in-person meeting was closed to the public. A virtual meeting replaced the physical meeting and was livestreamed on the Paducah Board of Education Facebook page and the Paducah Tilghman High School web page.
The special meeting prior to the regularly scheduled meeting was to allow members of the community to share comments with the board regarding Paducah Public Schools Superintendent Donald Shively's circulated Halloween party photo from 2002. The photo pictured Shively in blackface, do-rag, gold chain, and PTHS football shirt.
After the parents and concerned citizens shared their thoughts and opinions, Shively addressed the board and those watching virtually. He began by saying, "I'd like the opportunity to share what I've been trying to do." First, he apologized for the 'horrible and hurtful' act and expressed the numerous times he's asked for forgiveness and hopes that one day he'll be forgiven.
Shively said he's committed to a dialogue and has met with Tilghman students in-person and virtually. He's spoken with faculty and staff members across the district so all could 'share what they wanted to share.' He said, " Two weeks ago last Monday, I cleared my calendar from eight in the morning until six at night for parents or groups of parents that wanted to talk." There have been talks with community leaders and community groups across Paducah either in-person, by email, text, or phone calls.
Shively said there are things he's learned through these conversations. "I chose to get into education; it's about helping others and you dedicate your professional life to doing that." He continued, "Now, with what's happened, with what's come to light, the choice I made seeing how you can hurt people and destroy trust is just heartbreaking."
The superintendent estimated he'd spent 100 hours of communication and dialogue discussing the situation and he believes he has a much better understanding of the pain and hurt his actions caused.
He believes there needs to be more discussions on race and racism within the community. Shively said he's been questioned on how did this happen? Why did you make this decision? He's tried to understand how this must feel knowing he can't walk in their shoes. There's been trust broken and he understands. In the end, 'it's always been about what's best for the students.'
Members of the Board have said they won't be making any immediate decisions on Shively's future at Paducah Public Schools. One of the board members Mary Hunter Hancock said the board has received 139 messages with different ideas on Shively's future with Paducah Public Schools. Some have said remove Shively, some suggest reprimanding him, while others want to retain him.
Regardless of tonight's events, the superintendent will remain the leader of the Paducah Public Schools at present. If you would like to read comments from parents and members of the community, go to the Paducah Public Schools Facebook page.