Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Law director memo: Knox County BOE could renew teacher non-renewals

During last week’s Knox County Board of Education meeting, school boarder Amber Rountree asked the law director:

“What power does the board have with regard to the non-renewal of teachers’ contract?”

Well, apparently, a whole heck of a lot, according to Knox County Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong.

In a memo dated July 2, Armstrong, citing state and case law, said:

“The Board has absolute authority, in its discretion, to review any non-renewal or any other personnel matter that is brought to the attention of the Board. The Board may implement any procedure and take such action as the Board deems proper.”

In non-lawyerly language: If a principal fires a teacher, the school board – a voting majority – can overrule the principal and put that teacher right back in the classroom.

You can read the memo RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Now, why is this important?

Parents, teachers and students are upset that Christina Graham, a now former Copper Ridge Elementary School kindergarten teacher, was let go this past May. They feel that officials retaliated against her because she spoke out against SAT-10 testing for kindergarteners. Apparently Graham scored well on her evaluations, so it more than likely wasn’t about that.

A lot of folks will now probably look to the school board to see what happens next, and the pressure is on.

Does the board address the non-renewals case-by-case, or do members let it go? Right or wrong, the board will come dangerously close to micromanagement if it starts overruling principals, no matter how well-intended the situation.

Graham’s case could be the first big test.

And if I recall correctly, Copper Ridge is in board member Patti Bound’s neck of the woods, and she doesn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye with the administration.

We’ll see.

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