COVINGTON, Ky. — Hannah Edelen, Miss Kentucky 2022, was elected to the Covington school board last November, just six months after the district's superintendent refused to renew her teaching contract.
Edelen "demonstrated a lack of professionalism; poor work ethic and work attitude; lack of respect for co-workers; as well as failure or inability to follow established policies and procedures" as a teacher at Holmes Middle School during the 2021-22 school year, according to a May 18, 2022 letter Covington Independent Public Schools Superintendent Alvin Garrison wrote to Edelen.
In his letter, Garrison wrote that the 24-year-old failed to complete records on time, disrespected her principal and used sick leave for a personal trip to Washington.
Edelen claimed her principal knew she was going to use sick time for the trip and approved it. She provided Garrison with what she said proved it.
"It appears that you have been provided with a significant amount of false information," Edelen wrote in her response to Garrison.
She added that Garrison's letter was "at best, an inaccurate representation of my work ethic, attitude, respect for others, and my following of procedures, and, at worst, an attempt to slanderously discredit an educator with whom you disagree, with manipulated and false information to substantiate a non-renewal."
Now, Edelen is one of five elected Covington school board members that as a body have "direct supervisory responsibility for the district superintendent," according to the Kentucky School Boards Association.
At Thursday's school board meeting, Jerome Bowles, the president of the NKY NAACP, told urged new members to continue to put service before self.
"Whatever the self-interest or self-issues or past relationship issues that may have existed in the past, don't let those highlight your perspective of the future," Bowles said.
He was the only person who addressed the board during the public comment period.
Earlier on Thursday, Edelen made comments on public Facebook posts of WCPO's initial story about Garrison not renewing her teaching contract.
She wrote that Garrison's claims in his letter to her "are FALSE and are an attempt to discredit me."
Edelen's personnel file contained positive reviews of her job performance, including one from the end of the 2021-22 school year right before her contract wasn't renewed.
The review described her as "positive," "highly-structured" and an "asset to the staff."
The evaluator recommended renewing her contract.
In a letter to her principal, Edelen wrote that she felt "blindsided" by the decision to not renew her contract.
"Why would someone be non-renewed who is recommended for rehire in a district that is consistently needing teachers?", Edelen commented on Facebook.
Edelen also claimed the I-Team's story was "untrue," even though our reporting quoted directly from her public personnel records.
"This piece was about generating clicks, rather than telling the truth," Edelen wrote. "My title as Miss Kentucky was used without permission by me as a way to get clicks for this reporter."
Edelen declined the I-Team's request to answer questions earlier this week and again on Thursday.
In a statement she released after the school board meeting, Edelen said the allegations Garrison made are "false and unsubstantiated as evidenced by (her) personnel file." Garrison's letter and Edelen's response can be found at the bottom of this story, along with some of the examples she provided.
"I am proud of my work at Holmes Middle School and am confident that my very positive performance reviews provide the more accurate picture of my time with the school district," the statement says. "I love teaching, I love children, and I remain grateful for the opportunity I had to teach in Covington."
CIPS said in a statement it does not publicly comment on personnel matters.
"We value the unique talents and perspectives that each elected board official brings to the table, and as District employees we are excited to work with the Board as a team in furtherance of the educational mission of the School District," the statement says.
"I don't know if the voters had all the information that was involved, but they elected her," former Covington school board member Jerry Avery said. "It's just an issue her and the superintendent are going to have to work through."
Avery, who said he's a strong supporter of the superintendent, lost the November election for the Covington school board. He said he didn't vote for Edelen, but still wants her and the board to be successful.
"I wish her well," he said.
In a brief phone conversation on Tuesday, Covington school board member Stephen Gastright said that "currently" he didn't "have any concerns" about Edelen's ability to be impartial when dealing with the superintendent.
After the board meeting, School Board President Tom Haggard also declined our request for an interview.