Haslam is staging a rally for Romney today at West Hills Elementary. Here's the invitation (paid for by Bill Haslam for Governor).

Knox Co. School Board policy states that "No part of the school system, including the facilities, email addresses, the name, the staff, and the students, shall be used for advertising or promoting the interests of any commercial, political or other nonschool agency or organization."

There are a few exceptions. This does not appear to be one of them. Wonder who approved this under what authority?

Brian A.'s picture

Was Neyland Stadium not

Was Neyland Stadium not available?

bizgrrl's picture

Seems like someone needs to

Seems like someone needs to make them change the location very quickly. Otherwise, they got some 'splainin to do.

Can Bill Haslam get away with whatever he wants? Has the school board policy officially changed?

jbr's picture

They could have it in one of

They could have it in one of the empty WalMart, Kroger, some industrial park, etc. buildings.

redmondkr's picture

I'm sure that a Republican

I'm sure a Republican legislature that can squash Nashville's anti discrimination ordinance like a bug will have no trouble taking care of this little piddly-assed problem.

Now Santorum's rally in the Baptist bigot factory church may be an animal of a different color if the IRS can be persuaded to get interested.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I was discussing this very thing just last night, on the phone with a fellow Dem, and we originally read it like you do.

Then we recalled that the Knox County Dem Party has long held its convention in public school facilities.

We also recalled that--however this amended policy reads/will read--the Sixth District Dems continue to meet once monthly at Karns Middle School.

Whatever the intent of the amended/soon to be amended school system policy, we decided to leave the Romney event be.

R. Neal's picture

Holding a convention or

Holding a convention or otherwise conducting party business or even a having a debate or forum is a lot different than a political rally. The rally promotes and advocates for, in a public way, a political party and a candidate. I would venture to guess there was some fundraising going on, too.

R. Neal's picture

Romney rips deficit, China,

Romney rips deficit, China, Obama in Knox appearance » Knoxville News Sentinel

While Knox County School has a policy that restricts the use of its facilities to promote interests of any political organization, it allows exceptions to be made with approval of the school superintendent, spokeswoman Melissa Copelan said. In the case of West Hills being used by the Romney campaign, Superintendent Jim McIntyre approved the use of the facility at the request of the U.S. Secret Service.

ETA: I'm looking at the KCS policies, and I don't see where "it allows exceptions to be made with approval of the school superintendent."

Min's picture


...board policy is not like law or regulation. It's basically a position statement and is subject to amendment, repeal, or waiver, at the will of the policy-making authority. That isn't to say that this couldn't still bite Haslam in the ass, because there is such a clear policy in place. However, the school board has the authority to waive its own policy, should should it choose to do so in this situation.

R. Neal's picture

Yes, but according to

Yes, but according to Georgiana's report it was a unilateral decision by the Superintendent, not the Board. I believe the Board is the policy making authority. Wonder if they were consulted?

Not a federal case for sure. Just more GOP hypocrisy and coloring outside the lines.

Anyway, every candidate from every party should now feel free to request the use of public school facilities for campaign events and political rallies. The policy is de facto defunct.

Mike Cohen's picture


The statement from the schools is that the policy allows the Superintendent to approve exemptions.

There are churches that use schools, for a fee, every Sunday....and have for years. No one seems to have a problem with that.

Politics is part of how our nation operates. As long as schools aren't being used to deliver a political message to students, parents or staff but are simply using a building owned by the taxpayers, I think it is fine, regardless of political affiliation.

fischbobber's picture

Just a thought

Would this waiver have been as easily granted to Hillary Clinton making a stump speech for Barack Obama? While I agree the use of the building by Romney was indeed in the public interest I am concerned that it was not covered by school board policy to begin with. The event was fine, the policy needs changing.

By the way, what did it cost the county and what was the fee charged? Is there any way to verify that it has been paid within the forty-eight hours current policy dictates?

R. Neal's picture

The statement from the

The statement from the schools is that the policy allows the Superintendent to approve exemptions.

Maybe that's in the policy, but I couldn't find it.

Anyway, the school board has the policy for a reason. Allowing an "exception" in this case is an insult to the educators who work at the school because the candidate and other elected officials involved are out to dismantle public education. And ironically using a publicly funded public education facility to advance their agenda.

And what message does it send to students? That rules are made to be broken? They are expected to comply with school board policies. Grownups? Not so much.

smalc's picture

There are churches that use

There are churches that use schools, for a fee, every Sunday....and have for years. No one seems to have a problem with that.

A lot of people do have a problem with it. The application/policy linked below seems to frown on the extended use as well.

Mike Cohen's picture


Yes, it would have been waived as easily for Hillary. I think the schools would do a rapid yes for any nationally known figure.mand should.

fischbobber's picture


Are we in agreement that the policy needs a rewrite?

Mike Cohen's picture


Yes, it probably does....although it seems to work ok.

glostik's picture

Community Use Policy

Application for use specifically mentions how to handle payment if it is a political event.


R. Neal's picture

But to clarify, it seems to

But to clarify, it seems to refer to political party meetings and the like, not rallies. The previously mentioned policy specifically excludes such political events. And, the school superintendent's office said he approved an exception to the policy. If the event was not contrary to policy, why was an exception needed?

Mike Cohen's picture


Randy: Valid point. I was going off the quote I read from the schools.

Long term, policy should be adjusted if needed. My personal belief (and I know most of you don't give a damn what I think) is that schools are huge public investments. Anything that happens outside the educational process that is simply using the public space--Scouts, churches, political events--should be allowed.

Partisan activity? Probably half the schools in the area are being used as polling places for party primaries today.

They are public buildings. Let's get all the use out of them we can.

But I agree, the policy needs to reflect that.

glostik's picture

I missed the part about...

I missed the part about the exception, that is interesting! I was ready to go after this Saturday and then someone showed me the community use policy and said the other was for advertising and distributing materials. Policy seems to contradict itself...I'm shocked!

Factchecker's picture

I think you're wrong about that

(and I know most of you don't give a damn what I think)

I do give more than a damn what you think and would bet most others here do too.

Factchecker's picture

(deleted duplicate post)

(deleted duplicate post)

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