Fugate, vice president of Commercial Bank, replaces Indya Kincannon, who recently stepped down to move overseas with her family for a year. He will represent the 2nd District, which is comprised mostly of the North Knoxville area, on the 9-member board.
Fugate, 70, said he will not run for the seat in November, but sought the interim spot because he always wanted “to play a role in education.”
“I’ve got a yearning for education and I hope I can help in some way to set a different tone for the school system,” he said.
Fugate, who has grandchildren in three county schools, earned a degree in education and a master’s degree in administration and supervision.
His first meeting will take place in early September when he’s expected to help the school board to pick a new leader, a move that could shift the dynamics and philosophy of the board.
At this point, current board chairwoman Lynne Fugate, a strong supporter of the school system’s administration, has said that she wants to keep the seat for another year. In addition, board member Mike McMillan, a staunch opponent of the administration and the dissenting vote last year to extend Superintendent Jim McIntyre’s contract, also has shown interest.
Fugate, who is a "distant cousin" of Lynne Fugate's husband, declined to say how he would vote on the matter.
Fugate was one of six in a pool of candidates who submitted resumes and applications earlier this month that the commission considered on Monday.
He secured the seat in a 7-4 vote.
Commissioners Tony Norman, Jeff Ownby, Richard Briggs, R. Larry Smith, Dave Wright, Mike Hammond, and Ed Shouse voted for him.
Commissioners Sam McKenzie, Mike Brown, Brad Anders and Amy Broyles voted for Rick Staples, a former member of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office who worked in the programs rehabilitation department.
Broyles called the decision “a political vote” and said Fugate had “no support” in the 2nd District. She also suggested that he would not support the school system’s administration, which, in recent years, hasn’t seen eye-to-eye with the commission.
She suggested that the vote was political payback.
“It’s a tremendous disappointment and, frankly, it’s a slap in the face to every member of the 2nd District,” said Broyles, who represents North Knoxville on the commission. “This should not be about anyone’s personal political agenda.”
Board members were upset with her remarks.
“I do not have the slightest idea what she’s talking about,” Norman said. “I made my decision based on the information I had through two interview sessions and from speaking to people inside this district and outside this district who are attuned to the school system.”
He called the allegations “wrong and rude.”
Fugate declined to comment on Broyles’ remarks.