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Community Outreach

U.S. Attorney's Office Partners With Mary Todd Elementary School For Kindergarten Reading Program

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky recently completed the first full semester of its Kindergarten Reading Program with community partner Mary Todd Elementary School in Lexington.  To commemorate the end of a successful semester, U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlton Shier joined in reading to the students.   

In 2015, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced its partnership with Mary Todd Elementary School and its sponsorship of a Kindergarten Reading Program called the “Reading Ready Club.”  Members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office visit the school and read with kindergarten students once a month and give each child a book of his or her own to keep and read at home.  The program is designed to increase the children’s appetite and aptitude for reading, reduce early academic difficulties, and combat the problem of school-to-prison pipelines.  To date, nearly 100 kindergarten students and over 30 members of the U.S. Attorney’s Office have participated in the Reading Ready Club at Mary Todd Elementary. 

US Attorney Kerry Harvey reads to kindergarten students

U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey Reads to Kindergarten Students

 

First Assistant US Attorney Carlton Shier reads to kindergarten students

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlton Shier Reads to Kindergarten Students

 

U.S. Attorney Harvey And Matthew Shepard’s Parents Participate In Panel Discussion On Hate Crimes

On August 27, 2015, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky, in partnership with the University of Kentucky, sponsored an open campus event, to raise awareness on issues of diversity, inclusion, and the prevention of hate crimes.

The campus event coincided with a celebration of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and included a panel discussion with United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey, University of Kentucky officials and campus leaders, and special guests Dennis and Judy Shepard, parents of Matthew Shepard and founders of the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

The Shepard-Byrd Act was named in honor of Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming who was gay, and James Byrd, Jr., a 49-year-old African-American man living in Jasper, Texas. Both were brutally murdered in acts of intolerance and hate.

The Shepard-Byrd Act expanded federal hate crimes protections and removed unnecessary hurdles to prosecuting hate crimes. It also gave the Department of Justice new tools for prosecuting criminals and directed new resources to law enforcement agencies so they could better serve their communities. “To attack someone based on who that person is or is perceived to be, is just senseless violence,” said U.S. Attorney Harvey, whose office prosecuted the first case in the nation under the enhanced, sexual orientation provisions of the Shepard-Byrd Act.

Attendees of the event heard the personal story of the Shepards; heard about their efforts to address intolerance, through the Foundation; and heard about the tireless work that eventually led to the passage of the Act. The panel discussion also informed students and staff of the preventative measures campus leaders and authorities are taking to help protect the campus community from hate crimes and intolerance.

Kerry B. Harvey

United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey

Left-Right: Judy Shepard and Kerry B. Harvey

Left-Right: Judy Shepard and United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey

Panelists including Dennis Shepard, Judy Shepard, Kerry B. Harvey

Panelists including Dennis Shepard, Judy Shepard, Kerry B. Harvey
 

Fayette County Public Schools and U.S. Attorney’s Office Partner On Anti-Bullying Education for High School Students

As part of its ongoing commitment to ensuring a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students, Fayette County Public Schools partnered with community leaders, law enforcement officials and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to kick-off the 2015-16 school year with an anti-bullying summit for high school students.

“Our school campuses must be safe places for all students,” said Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Manny Caulk. “There is no room for discrimination, bullying or hate in our school district.”

The goal of Thursday’s event was to raise awareness about the harmful impact of bullying and to promote tolerance in schools. The summit specifically focused on equipping students to know how to respond if they witness bullying or are a victim of bullying.

While Fayette County Public Schools has strong policies to protect students against harassmentand bullying, national statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that roughly 1 in every 5 high school students has experienced bullying.

Increased education and attention to the issue has had an impact in FCPS. In the past five years, while our enrollment has risen by more than 3,000 students, the number of reported incidents of bullying or harassment in Fayette County schools has been cut nearly in half – from 1,019 incidents in the 2010-11 school year to 533 last year.

The parents of Matthew Shepard addressed 450 students about bullying.

The parents of Matthew Shepard addressed 450 students about bullying.
 

U.S. Attorney Harvey Encourages Thousands of High School Students to Value Voting Rights

U.S. Attorney Kerry B. Harvey spoke to more than a thousand high school students in eastern Kentucky, encouraging them to value and exercise their right to vote. The U.S. Attorney’s Office makes the prosecution of vote buying cases a high priority. Convictions in these cases serve as a deterrent to citizens buying or selling their vote. U.S. Attorney Harvey’s presentation is recognition of the role youth can play in a culture where many people accept vote buying as a common practice.

“You are the generation that can change the culture in your community,” said U.S. Attorney Harvey. “You deserve the right and freedom to vote with the confidence that you voted for a candidate as part of an honest election process.”

U.S. Attorney Harvey made presentations to four different high school sophomore classes. The presentations were intended to help students gain an appreciation of the right to vote by discussing the evolution of voting rights in America. To support this message, he told stories of American heroes who sacrificed to gain voting equality for all genders and races. Additionally, Harvey referenced the obstacles voters of the early 20th century had to face, such as poll taxes and literacy tests, which frequently prevented citizens from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

Earlier this year, U.S. Attorney Harvey’s office obtained guilty pleas from eight defendants, including a circuit court judge, a school superintendent and the county clerk, in a racketeering case where public officials purchased votes in local elections in Clay County. In 2012, more than ten defendants pleaded guilty in federal court to charges related to vote buying in Breathitt County.

United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey and high school students

United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey addressing high school students on voting rights.

United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey and high schools students

United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey addressing high school students on voting rights.

United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey and high schools students

United States Attorney Kerry B. Harvey addressing high school students on voting rights.

Updated June 7, 2016