To the Knox Co BOE, 6/3/2015

To the Knox County Board of Education, June 3rd, 2015

I have a great deal of respect for the educators behind me & I know they have sacrificed dearly, trying to bring information to this Board and the public, for the benefit of students in Knox County Schools. However, I think we are going about things the wrong way: This may not be the best forum for these concerns. We may need a larger forum.

We tend to forget that Knox County does not have a school system.

  • Our state has a school system.
  • This state system is divided into smaller districts: Local Education Agencies (LEAs)
  • Management of those LEAs is entrusted to local boards of education.

So – just looking at the Big picture:

  • The State Legislature makes the laws regarding schools in the state;
  • the State Board of Education further creates policies;
  • the State Department of Education is tasked with enforcing the laws and policies;
  • cities and counties elect boards of education;
  • Boards of education serve the STATE, by managing the Local Education Agencies;
  • and those boards hire a Director of Schools to oversee day-to-day operation of their LEA.

As teachers and community members, we keep talking to middle management. “Truth to power” doesn’t come from talking to middle management – especially when middle management is a large part of the problem.

To better serve our community, we need to take a look at Tennessee Code Annotated and really think about where our voices might better serve our students.
There are two things the following laws address:
Illegal acceptance of the Broad grant and treatment of employees who have tried to addressproblems within KCS.

The Education Truth in Reporting and Employee Protection Act of 1989 deals with the very problems we are seeing. (TCA 49-50-1402)

(a)….It is the intent of the general assembly to reduce the waste & mismanagement of public education funds, to reduce abuses in governmental authority & to prevent illegal & unethical practices.

(b) To help achieve these objectives, the general assembly declares that public education employees should be encouraged – ENCOURAGED – to disclose information on actions of LEAs that are not in the public interest … any employee making those disclosures shall not – SHALL not – be subject to disciplinary measures, discrimination or harassment by any public official.

[I believe that should include attempts by this board to publicly chastise or shame those employees in these meetings]
Tennessee Code clarifies:

(1) “Disciplinary action” means any direct or indirect form of discipline or penalty, including, but not limited to, dismissal, demotion, transfer, reassignment, suspension, reprimand, admonishment, reduction in force, withholding of work, unsatisfactory or below standard performance evaluation or the threat of such discipline or penalty;

(2) “Disclosure of information” [May include]

  • the waste of public education funds, 
  • mismanagement, 
  • falsification of state required reports, 
  • inaccurate compilation of statistical data or reports 


  • abuse of authority by locally employed, elected or appointed officials or employees of an LEA…

The Penalties are clearly laid out in TCA 49-50-1406 

  Should any person [This could also be an employee – like a Director of Schools] – be found guilty of knowingly and willfully making or causing to be made any false statement or report or otherwise violating the requirements … that person shall forfeit all pay and compensation for the position held for a period not to exceed one (1) year, be subject to dismissal, removal or


Yes, an EMPLOYEE can also be subject to OUSTER

from the office or position and be ineligible for election or appointment for the same or a similar position for five (5) years.

(a) Any person having knowledge…may report or disclose the falsification, waste or mismanagement

  • to the department of education
  • or committee of the general assembly
  • or individual official, member or employee of the department

(b) The department shall make a thorough investigation of any written report of falsification, waste or mismanagement. 

[Have our BOARD members ALL made a THOROUGH investigation of of issues that have been brought up???

(c) …a person reporting shall be presumed to be acting in good faith 

[something that has NOT been evident in these meetings]

and shall thereby be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, that might otherwise be incurred or imposed for the reporting.
I believe we have dealt with middle management long enough. It is time to exercise OUR due diligence, as community members, and move these problems up the chain.


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