The Troubling, Tangled Relationship Between the LRSD & Stacy Hurst’s Campaign

This past Monday, October 13, I attended the Little Rock School District Town Hall at Forest Park Elementary. Ostensibly, the meeting was about letting parents discuss issues related to the district generally, while also providing those parents with information about testing dates, requirements for accommodating dyslexia, and new developments within the district.

Given the timing and location of the meeting, along with the allegations that the LRSD was complicit in the whole thing, I suspected that there might be some questions about the non-placement of Clarke Tucker’s son. What I did not expect, however, was that LRSD Superintendent Dexter Suggs would admit that the allegations were true and apologize for the whole thing, but that’s exactly what happened.

The mother of a Forest Park student first raised the issue early on in the meeting, and Dr. Suggs stated that he would prefer it if people would blame him for this sort of thing, rather than blaming other LRSD employees further down the totem pole. Dr. Suggs further stated that he had taken steps to address the problem.

Clarke Tucker’s mother then asked what those steps were, explained that she was very concerned that the LRSD would allow the placement system to be used as a political tool, and suggested that — at the very least — an apology was warranted. Dr. Suggs stated (and I’m only slightly paraphrasing here): On behalf of the Little Rock School District, I apologize to you and your family for all of this. At no point did Dr. Suggs deny that something improper had occurred, nor did he equivocate and act like maybe things were not exactly as they appeared.[foot]He was also completely aware of the allegations, without needing anyone to explain what they were talking about, so it appears as if he might be reading Blue Hog Report.[/foot]

But, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that the fact that Dr. Suggs apologized was not in and of itself proof that the Pre-K placement system was used as a tool against Clarke Tucker. There is still more evidence that things are exactly as they appear to be.

Last week, I emailed Valerie Hudson at the Little Rock School District, asking:

Is there any written policy or procedure that explains when the P4 waiting lists are reviewed once the first day of school gets close?

What I mean is, I assume that, at some point in August, LRSD starts looking at compulsory attendance grades and those waiting lists, and P4 waiting lists are put to the side until the compulsory grades are completed. So I was wondering if there was a specific date range for that written down somewhere?

The following day, I received this response from Dr. Frederick Fields:

Screenshot 2014-10-18 12.44.53

dog-huh-ah-ha

Assuming Dr. Fields is telling the truth,[foot]Which, given how damning the truth is, seems like a reasonable thing to assume[/foot] the 5-day drop period replaced the “after Labor Day” general rule that the district used in the past. In either case, by Fields’ own admission, the LRSD was not looking at Pre-K waiting lists until some time after school started. Which is exactly what he said to Toni Tucker in an email that the LRSD has failed to provide in multiple FOIA requests.

Which in turn means exactly what we’ve previously said: under LRSD policy and practicies, there was absolutely no reason that Fields would have been looking at the Fair Park waiting list in mid-August, and he certainly would not have offering spots from those lists to anyone at that point. Yet, despite this — and despite the Tuckers’ son not even being first on the Fair Park list at the time the “offer” was made — Fields emailed Toni Tucker on August 13 regarding an open spot at Fair Park, then he immediately forwarded that email to Leslie Fisken with only, “FYI…waiting on a response. :)” as the message.

Ah, but that’s just one part of the story. What about the fact that Karen James claimed that she had offered the Tuckers a spot at Brady months prior, which the Tuckers declined? I had the same question, so I sent this FOIA request to Dr. James last Monday:

Pursuant to the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, please provide copies of all emails, letters, or other written correspondence demonstrating an offer to place Toni and Clarke Tucker’s son at Brady Elementary for Pre-K. Further, please provide copies of any return correspondence from Mr. or Mrs. Tucker to you regarding said placement.

A day later, I got this response:

Screenshot 2014-10-18 13.14.59

Now, first off, it is worth noting that student placement is not Karen James’ job.  It is Frederick Fields’.  So it is unclear why Karen James would be offering a spot at Brady (or anywhere) without some communication about that placement with Fields.  One assumes that, had she actually made an offer, James would have had to let Fields know, since he is working with a finite number of seats at every school.

Yet, not only is there no communication between James and Fields about this alleged offer, there is no email or letter to the Tuckers, showing that they were offered a slot at Brady.  There is no email or letter from the Tuckers, declining that seat.  In short, the only “evidence” that Karen James offered the Tuckers a spot at Brady is James’ email — dated May 2, which is 3 days after the date on a letter from the LRSD stating that the Tuckers’ son did not receive a placement — in which she claims to have made that offer.  Given how disingenuous the other emails from the LRSD have been when it comes to the Tuckers, without some proof to the contrary, believing Karen James about the Brady offer seems questionable at best.

There are a lot of moving parts in all of this, of course.  So let’s summarize.  Taken as a whole, what we have is:

(a) a timeline that belies Stacy Hurst’s disingenuous explanations for ARGOP FOIA requests;

(b) the heavy involvement of Hurst donors Melanie Fox and Leslie Fisken in the placement of Clarke Tucker’s son, which makes sense in the context of the political importance of the Forest Park district in this race;

(c) Frederick Fields’ admitting that there was no reason that he should have made an offer to the Tuckers on August 13;

(d) Karen James failing to have even the slightest documentation of offering a seat at Brady; and

(e) Dr. Suggs apologizing to the Tuckers on behalf of the entire LRSD for the games that were played in the non-placement of Clarke Tucker’s son.

Throw in the reprehensible mailers that have been sent out by Hurst and/or her proxies, all of which fail to mention that the man who Clarke Tucker defended was acquitted of the subsequent charge that Hurst continues to crow about, and it becomes exceedingly hard to see why anyone who wasn’t in line to benefit financially from Hurst’s election would vote for her.  Certainly nothing we’ve seen in her campaigning or character deserves your vote.

19 COMMENTS

  1. A valuable lesson learned here: self-important assholes are piss poor and incompetent political rat-fuckers. Sorry for the profanity, but I’m channeling my inner Nixon today.

  2. Just more bullshit defending Clarke Tucker’s lies. The privileged Tuckers and in-laws thought they were to good for Brady Elementary and Fairpark Elementary. When they tried to turn their pre k child into a political football it backfired.

  3. And now the Tucker’s are trying to say Karen James lied about the Brady offer. Why would Karen James lie.

  4. Your “point” seems to be that you’re ignoring evidence. They never requested Brady. There is no proof that they were ever offered Brady. Fields admitted that they weren’t even looking at the waitlist when he offered Fair Park (when the Tuckers weren’t even atop the waitlist there). Dexter Suggs apologized to the family. But, please, by all means, tell me how your own analysis of the race shows something else. You’re clearly informed and not just talking out of your ignorant ass.

  5. My Facebook account has been hacked. On two occasions, my name has appeared in support of Stacy Hurst. I can assure you I do not support mrs Hurst. She is not a person of integrity. If you see my name in support of mrs hurst again, please snap a picture or capture any evidence you can, then let me know. Thank you.

  6. That’s a weird thing that FB does when you’ve liked/commented on something about a public figure. I have a number of friends who I know don’t support Hurst or Asa or Cotton, but their names show up as [PERSON] Likes Stacy Hurst.

  7. So now that LRSD Superintendent Dexter Suggs admits that the allegations were true and apologizes, what does it take for those employees to resign or or be fired for their misconduct?

  8. Folks, this is evidently a new way to use FB to get supporters, even those who DON’T support someone. For example a Republican candidate in NLR sent me a Friend Request and I declined but sent her a message that explained I was a Demo, voted Demo, and couldn’t “Like” her until after the election to avoid the appearance that I support her. I have since received no less than four (4) more Friend Requests from this candidate.

  9. KaraD That’s the $64,000 question at the moment.  Suggs said at the meeting that, if someone has to be blamed, it should be him. But if it’s Fields doing the tampering, it doesn’t seem right to go after Suggs.

  10. My thoughts exactly, which is why I find it weird Suggs is so willing to take the blame for something he supposedly didn’t have a hand in. He apologizes, wants to take blame, and never mentions any repercussions of guilty employee(s). Makes me think there might be more to his story, too, maybe? And what about Melanie Fox and Leslie Fisken? Or the Forest Park principal whom supposedly knows this is going on?
    My child is supposed to go to Forest Park next year (was one of the 5, along with Clarke Tucker’s son, who didn’t get into Pre-K this year), but I’m seriously reconsidering if politics is running this deep and dirty within the school itself.

  11. Clarke Tucker’s candidacy has been disappointing to say the least.  He is a son of a prominent Little Rock businessman and an attorney at one of the best firms in the state, so you would expect more. 

    So far, “My son wasn’t offered a seat in LRSD PreK.” Then, “I am a victim because someone has tried to check the facts to determine whether my statement was accurate!” (which it apparently was not).

    Rule one, once you raise an issue in a campaign it is not out of bounds! 

    Rule two, if you tell a story, tell the whole story, or don’t tell it at all. 

    The insinuation that Leslie Fiskin or Melanie Fox acted inappropriately is totally unproven and is pretty outrageous.  They did nothing to move the Tucker kid to the front of the line because he was rich and they certainly did nothing to keep him out!  Mindlessly repeating it in a liberal blog won’t make it so. If anyone in the media would go to the trouble to ask Tucker directly, he would have to admit they are innocent of wrongdoing. 

    Dr. Suggs likely apologized to try to end the victim drama created by Clarke Tucker, him mama and daddy and other family entourage he brought to a public meeting.  There was and is nothing to apologize for, unless Suggs was apologizing for not pulling some other kid from a less influential family out of PreK at the Forest Park so the Tucker child could attend.

    Like a lot of Dems in this election, Tucker apparently hopes he can get elected by whining about his opponent, fabricating injuries and playing the victim.  Beats talking about issues!  Maybe he can join the apparent Democrat overall strategy of showing pictures of Bill Clinton and Mike Beebe to distract voters away from examining the actual candidates on the ballot.  In spite of impressive family connections Clarke Tucker has not turned out to be ready for prime time.   

    The proven and experienced candidate in this race is Stacy Hurst.

  12. bud2 They weren’t offered a spot prior to the mailer being printed.  And the spot they were offered was done improperly (they were >20th on the waiting list at the time).  It’s clear that you’ve either ignoring the substance of these posts, or you haven’t read them and you just want to repeat the same disproven arguments in support of Hurst.  

    Leslie Fisken and Melanie Fox did act inappropriately.  Just fyi.

  13. Blue Hog Report bud2 
    My understanding is that the Tuckers were offered a spot at Brady 3 days after receiving the letter saying they didn’t get in Forest Park.  That was on May 2.  Emails show that there were many spots available at other schools but all the Tuckers seemed to be interested in was using their influence to get to the front of the line at Forest Park.  Tell me where I am wrong. 

    Melanie Fox and Leslie Fisken have both served this community selflessly.  Their families are respected in the community on at least the same plane as Clarke Tucker’s.  If you have something to accuse them of I suggest you be specific and offer up your proof.  Your statements are slanderous as they stand.  Your allegations of “heavy involvement” by Fox and Fisken imply wrongdoing, but you don’t say why.  Their “heavy involvement” appears to amount to their polite attempts to ethically respond to a well connected family’s various attempts to get special treatment. 

    Clarke Tucker ought to be better than these tactics.  He should disavow your baseless rants.  A campaign is important, but when it is over a person has to live with their decisions.  I cannot believe that Clarke thinks election is worth painting his reputation in this way.

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