Jan 4 2016
09:09 am

May stay through the end of the school year. Mike Donila reports...

UPDATE: McIntyre said in a press conference that the political situation is "untenable" and that he is resigning effective July 8th. He says he has a verbal agreement with School Board Chair Doug Harris for one year's severence pay. The School Board will have to vote on the severence pay.

R. Neal's picture

Does this mean he gets a

Does this mean he gets a buyout per his recently approved contract?

GSD's picture

Surely not. I believe his

Surely not. I believe his contract states that he may terminate it on HIS end with a 90 day notice, but doing so will NOT give him a payout beyond his end date.

SnM's picture

Donila's story says McIntyre

Donila's story says McIntyre will ask for one year's salary as a severance package.

R. Neal's picture

Must have just added that.

Must have just added that. Developing situation...

R. Neal's picture

KNS now reporting. Sounds

KNS now reporting. Sounds like he is being fired? This is crazy.


GSD's picture

Wow. This is evolving pretty

Wow. This is evolving pretty quickly! Media reports are making it sound like he's trying to cut a deal.

Brian A.'s picture

I have no kids and barely

I have no kids and barely follow such matters but that seems like a pretty thankless job, given all the grief people have over it.

redmondkr's picture plans to stream a plans to stream a press conference at 11 am.

mdonila's picture


WBIR 10News will have it live on TV and on the web.

R. Neal's picture

Bitter McIntyre cites

Bitter McIntyre cites politics as reason for resigning, wants one year's severence pay.

GSD's picture

Not surprisingly, Mcintyre

Not surprisingly, Mcintyre didn't take ANY responsibility for the deficits in his leadership which prompted the "politics" - instead plays the victim card and blames the haters.

Cece's picture

The Professional Victim quits

News Conference:


He blamed everyone but the reflection in the mirror.

Dahlia's picture


He quits his job and still gets a year''s severence pay?

Elwood Aspermonte's picture

Tough job, big and diverse public school system

Unlike Memphis, Nashville, and to a certain extent Chattanooga, Knoxville doesn't have the private and parochial schools to absorb the students and their families that prefer a private education without many of the distractions and disturbances which have been allowed to percolate through the Knox County Public School System. McIntyre was challenged to build a one size fits all model for each school when nothing could have been further from rational thought.

McIntyre did put a pretty good product out despite a number of funding challenges and the public's refusal to further fund the mediocre or low performing public schools in Knox County. The families that value and encourage education will continue to do so regardless of who the superintendent is. McIntrye's playing politics was to purportedly get more funding in place for the school system, but more often than not it only involved one particular community or one particular school.

McIntrye knows the buzz words and does a fairly good job articulating the public school mission, he'll land on his feet in another system (he may have already lined up a move to another system, creating the ability to stay through the end of a calendar year.

It's time for the legislature to abolish the school board/county commission government model, it doesn't work, particularly in the poorer counties that barely have the funds available to keep the buses rolling, let alone engage in the fine arts or other high end academic environments.

Burchette for school superintendent?

vs's picture

Tough job, etc.

A management job becomes more complex requiring more education as the number of employees one manages increase. One may be successful with 100 employees, but if that person just accepts a job with 4000 employees he will not be successful. McIntyre never managed even one school and the number of people under him was around 100 when we hired him to lead 8000 employees and 89 schools accepting the headhunters background check. Big mistake.

The ACT test results are the key indicator what our children learned from grade one to twelve. the ACT score was 22 before he came on board and then it went out. More importantly the ACT readiness percentage of regular diplomas means that the READY students have only a chance to finish the first year of tech school, job training or college. The ready percentage is 24% of regular diplomas, so 76% are not ready after high school but for low end jobs that will be replaced in short order by software or robotic automation. Graduation with such odds is meaningless and we are paying half billion of the people's money for such poor performance. The board selected an unqualified person for the job, hence the results that destroy the life of a large percentage of our children's future.

Bad Superintendent's picture

most important point on McIntyre/Haslams failure

"More importantly the ACT readiness percentage of regular diplomas means that the READY students have only a chance to finish the first year of tech school, job training or college. The ready percentage is 24% of regular diplomas, so 76% are not ready after high school but for low end jobs that will be replaced in short order by software or robotic automation."

This is the smoking gun. And almost no one in Knox County knows this. They don't know it because Haslam controlled media has suppressed it. It has been written about many times at the Shopper and the Focus and I think on Screams From the Porch. It has been written about many times on KnoxViews. You sure don't hear Hallerin talk about it. It evades the talking heads on Sunday morning talk shows on local TV. The Sentinel runs from it like it is poison. The Knox Chamber has no comment. It's not talked about at the Blue Streak cocktail parties.

But it is the most important thing that parents and voters don't know.

McIntyre has been a dismal failure. But the graduation rate went up. So that's exemplary. So give him a raise, illegal contract extension, and severance if those first two don't work out. Most importantly, declare success no matter what.

How can you blame people who don't know what they don't know? They trust the daily paper. Maybe if someone put up a billboard on I-40 that would help?

Shasta Whatley's picture

Good Bye Jimmy !!

Finally, we can move on past this "good Ole Boy' environment we've been stuck in! Scandal after scandal with this guy. His accomplishments would have been obtained with anyone at the helm. Now, maybe Knox Co Schools will hire a true leader. Remember this J-Mac, once you lose the trust of your workers, you NEVER get it back. Good luck in trying to destroy another school system in your future.

Rachel's picture

Finally, we can move on past

Finally, we can move on past this "good Ole Boy' environment we've been stuck in!

I have mixed feelings about McIntyre, but this sentence is ridiculous. Part of McIntyre's problem (and please note that I said "part" so don't go jumping on me) is that he's not a GOB.

The GOB environment will be with Knox County, if not always, for a long time yet to come.

Dante's Beatrice's picture

Thank you,Tamara

Tamara , thank you.Your presentation before County Commission was the straw that broke the camel's back..After that statement and the commission's symbolic 9-2 vote against the illegal extension,it was inevitable that McIntyre would call Doug Harris and say,...."Doug, it is time.Come over and fire me."

Bad Superintendent's picture

hysterically funny

That is so apt.

"Doug, it is time. Come over and fire me."

Cece's picture

back at the beginning

McIntyre in the bunker:


The Hallerin part is perfect.

Cece's picture

best comment at WBIR

I don't think Doug Harris will try to do the lame duck route. But if he does...

"Do you think Jim Haslam made Mac quit so he can select his replacement? Do you think that if Harris and the other 4 Rubber Stampers decide to run the lame duck train through the BOE with a 5-4 majority to select the next super in the next eight months, that the citizens of Knox County can file an ouster suit? It's legal to file an ouster suit against an elected official. These Five BOE Rubber Stampers are elected!
It is my opinion that if the Haslam wants someone gone, they just mention that they won't be contributing their usual annual millions of dollars donations UNTIL....."

Tamara Shepherd's picture

National ed policy shift

I don't doubt that local issues like a reconstituted BOE come September, last month's condemnation of sorts from commission relative to his recently extended contract, and longstanding tensions between him and Mayor Burchett figured most heavily in McIntyre's decision to resign.

Aside from local considerations like these, though, there is also this circumstance of a changed policy landscape at the national level.

With the demise of NCLB and the passage last month of the fed's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), Congress has scaled back or abandoned altogether many of the reforms McIntyre pushed--pushed in excess of what was previously required by the feds, in fact.

Although we haven't talked it much here, ESSA abandons the fed's insistence on adherence to Common Core curriculum, aggressive student testing, and teacher evaluations contingent on those test results, instead allowing states and even individual school districts to formulate such policies.

No, it doesn't yet appear that Tennessee will make any dramatic change of course in its policies, so possibly McIntyre is in conversation with the State Department of Education concerning a potential role for him there?

Personally, I do not see McIntyre serving as a school superintendent again, in Tennessee or elsewhere. It seems more likely to me that he would continue his career within some State Dept of Ed or else with some educational service provider in private industry. Sheer conjecture on my part, you understand, but either of these two settings seems to me to be a better fit for him.

reform4's picture

Now that we have an opening....

.. can we consider promoting from within, rather than a $100,000 search for another Broad Academy clone?

Then again, Mac has decimated the ranks from which we might be able to promote from.

FWIW, it seems 6 months would be more than sufficient, a year seems a bit excessive to me, given the salary (6 months of his salary is more like a year's severance, IMHO).

And it's VERY common that severance package clauses include a provision that if they take another job in X months, the payout is adjusted to the time they were between jobs. I would hope the BOE would be smart enough to do that, in case he is just quitting for another job that he already has lined up.

Dahlia's picture

I wouldn't be surprised if

McIntyre will be put in charge over a Charter school organization, possibly tied to Cleveland, OH ala Haslam. I think he's been all about privatization from the very beginning. That's my prediction.

Dahlia's picture

Time will tell -

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Thanks for that link.

Didn't know that Jimmy and Dee Haslam gave $10M last month to expand Cleveland-area charter schools.

Did know that Ohio allows for-profit charter school management organizations.

Just learned, via this article, that (as of November 2014) Tennessee is one of just six states nationally that doesn't allow the for-profit operators. Yet.

(Clarification: Beyond these six states, another seven states still don't allow charter schools at all, so really it's 13 states that "don't allow the for-profit operators." Also, you may know that Washington state's Supreme Court declared that state's charter school law unconstitutional this past fall, so very likely there will soon be 14 states that "don't allow the for-profit operators." All of which may or may not impact where Jim McIntyre may land. Carry on.)

Min's picture

Ohio has become the wild west of for-profit charters.

It's one of the reasons that I wouldn't vote for John Kasich, if you paid me.

Tamara Shepherd's picture



That article I linked above says Michigan has the most for-profit charter operators, Florida is second, and Ohio is third.

Not surprising that Ohio caught the eye of this Webb School of Knoxville alumnus, then.

Cece's picture


Do you think the Haslam family is considering for profit charter schools for Tennessee? Would that require a change in state law?

R. Neal's picture

Yes, and yes. Although on the

Yes, and yes.

Although on the second part I seem to recall a fairly recent bill to start chipping away at that prohibition, but I don't think it passed.

My memory could be faulty.

But it wouldn't surprise me at all if this comes back, along with vouchers.

For-profit charter schools are probably an easier sell than vouchers, because, you know, charter schools are "public" schools.

Cece's picture

very concerned

So tax payer money would be paid to a private for profit company to teach our kids? And to sweeten this in the legislature they would throw in vouchers for private schools? After Jimmy Haslam donated $10 million in Cleveland for this, is this the next Haslam empire?

If I understand this correctly, this seems like a huge conflict of interest for our Governor. With Dr. McIntyre staying in Knoxville, I am very concerned.

R. Neal's picture

With Dr. McIntyre staying in

With Dr. McIntyre staying in Knoxville, I am very concerned.

I doubt he will be here much longer than Jul. 8, if that long. We are small potatoes to him. He has bigger designs. As big as his ego.

I'd be more concerned about Haslam. And whether the current school board rushes to hire a new superintendent before the new board takes office.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I don't know if the Haslams are actively pushing for for-profit charter schools right now, but we do know this:

1. Bill Haslam supported and signed legislation some years back establishing the for-profit TN Virtual School program, delivered by K12 Inc.

2. Bill Haslam supported and signed legislation last year establishing a limited voucher program for SPED students, effectively routing more public dollars to private SPED providers.

3. Bill Haslam has supported (to no effect yet) a broader voucher program for all students, which would route still more public dollars to private education providers if/when he eventually succeeds in establishing it.

4. Bill Haslam clearly has a yen to privatize every public function he can--and beyond just the functions of public ed.

So no, we don't know that he's actively working on legalizing for-profit charter school management organizations but yes, he bears every indication of likely having such an interest.

And yes, it would require a change in state law. Currently, state law requires that charter school "sponsors" be just non-profits. State law does not presently allow for-profit charter school management organizations.

(That link I offered a day or so back in this thread says that TN is among just six states nationally that *do* allow charter schools, but *do not* allow for-profit interests to manage them, so we're in a minority in that regard.)

michael kaplan's picture

Even non-for-profit charter

Even non-for-profit charter schools have a huge potential for generating profits through contracts for construction, food services, custodial services, books, computer hardware and software, school bus transportation, teaching and adminstrative services, etc.

Dahlia's picture

They've already started them

with the Emerald Charter School.

Dahlia's picture

From the link I posted earlier:

"The Haslams gave Breakthrough $1 million for expansion in March. They also looked to Breakthrough's Village Prep elementary schools and E Prep middle schools as models for a new charter school in Knoxville, Tenn., where they come from.

Emerald Academy opened there this summer as the first charter school in the city."

Cece's picture

Will not vote for Haslam supported candidates

I will not vote for Haslam supported BOE candidates. I hope the Shopper will report who they are like the last BOE election. Our kids are not a product to make money off of. It appears the Haslams are intent on privatizing education to make a profit. I wish all the Haslams would move to Ohio. They can take Pilot Flying J with them. And the Knox Chamber too.

Dahlia's picture

If Charter Schools had some magic formula

that was specific to their success over regular public schools, I'd be okay with them, but they don't. Actually, they're quite the opposite because they:

1) pick and choose their students (no room for special needs or disruptive kids),
2) they cost more, but the teachers get paid less (gotta make sure a profit is made)
3) failure rate for charter schools is much higher than public ("nearly 2,500 charter schools have shuttered between 2001 and 2013") - (link...)

If public schools actually got what they have been asking for, for years - smaller classrooms and/or more teacher assistance, there would not be a problem today. If a charter school IS hailed as a success, then they most likely are given these things, while the public schools are denied.

There is no magic bullet, It's all a sham to make money for the middleman.

R. Neal's picture

Sandra Clark weighs in: We

Sandra Clark weighs in:

We cannot run a modern school system on stress and fear; when teachers feel like the evaluation system is a “gotcha.”

On at least one occasion, he demoted a principal by saying, “You’re a nice guy, but you’re not a good fit.”

So on behalf of my friends who are educators, let me say, “Good-bye, Jim. You’re just not a good fit.”

GSD's picture

"Fact is, one doesn’t walk

"Fact is, one doesn’t walk away from a job he loves because his enemies don’t like him. He walks away when his friends stop liking him."

I thought the same thing at his most recent contract-extension bid. Just some local law enforcement guys and a few diehard "Leadership Academy" principals speaking up. No command performances by the Chamber-types, no ministers or PTA people, no one from the Great Schools Partnership, no Haslam-connected mystery speakers from out of county, etc.

Seems as if the McIntyre / Broad brand has fallen out of favor and has become akin to a case of cooties for any local officials or community leaders.

Shasta Whatley's picture

Thanks Sandra!!

Speaking of a fit, did I see where a board member mentioned hiring a search committee?? This is the most asinine comment I've heard today. Is that not how we got to this point in the first place? Spend another $100,000 to bring in something like we had? Thats a plan. Hopefully, they'll pinch themselves & wakeup and not fall into the search committee trap again. Are our school board members so incompetent that they cannot select a Sup?? If so, we need different board members who can select a qualified superintendent.

Bbeanster's picture

Time out for inside baseball

Time out for inside baseball media observation:

Good lick, Donila.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Super's newest contract still under discussion tonight

In a related matter, the BOE has been meeting in work session since 5:00 p.m. this afternoon and has spent the last hour and twenty minutes debating Carson's proposal to hire outside legal counsel to get an opinion on the legality of extending the term in the super's most recent contract renewal/extension.

Carson says the question is especially pertinent now, given that if the BOE cannot legally renew/extend a new super's contract annually, following his/her annual evaluation, it will pose a difficulty for the BOE in recruiting McIntyre's replacement.

Carson says that she is not aware of any TN school system that does not renew/extend its super's contract annually as Knox County has been.

I can't say one way or another what other school systems do, you understand, much less whether what they're doing is legal (although the recently unearthed AG Opinion from 2001 read to me as if annually extending a super's contract is illegal). I'm just reporting some of this ongoing dialogue...

Chuck R's picture

I don't blame McIntyre for

I don't blame McIntyre for leaving. Even if he doesn't make as much money in another job, it's gotta be worth something to not have to put up with Burchett, WBIR, bitter/lazy teachers, crazed parents on the PTA, and a school board controlled by the Fountain City Focus.

MLDaugherty's picture

Bitter lazy/lazy teachers?

Bitter lazy/lazy teachers? Chuck,I think you need a mental evaluation! It sounds like you are bitter crazy person!

Chuck R's picture

I didn't mean all teachers

I didn't mean all teachers are bitter and lazy. But I've met quite a few who I wish would expend half as much energy doing their jobs as they do complaining about being evaluated.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

"Complaining about being evaluated"

Chuck, I have to believe you don't understand what teachers' objections have been with the state's teacher evaluation model or you never would suggest that teachers are just "complaining about being evaluated."

We've discussed those objections in-depth at this blog for several years now, so if you have some time maybe type "teacher evaluation" in the search field to the upper right of your screen to catch up on the particulars.

Teachers' objections are and have been quite specific and quite understandable, you'll find, but be prepared to read for many hours!

(And FYI, a teacher evaluation model similar to Tennessee's was successfully challenged in court in New Mexico last month, while other such legal challenges are now pending in Texas, Florida, New York, and of course here. AFT and/or NEA are involved in all these suits.)

MLDaugherty's picture

Sorry for the typo. I just

Sorry for the typo. I just found my reading glasses. I meant to stress that you are crazy! Students, teachers, and the community deserve the respect of the BOE. I do not think the Focus supported the BOE members and candidates that have taken an arrogant and disrespectful attitude toward those groups. Hopefully the new BOE members will serve the Knoxville community and will give the students, teachers, and citizens the respect they deserve.

Chuck R's picture

Students, teachers, and the

Students, teachers, and the community also deserve political leaders and media members who won't manipulate their emotion for their own gain, thus, creating this "dysfunctional environment." That's my main point here and, I believe, the reason McIntyre decided to step down.

Bad Superintendent's picture

Do you ever watch BOE meetings?

You are exactly wrong:


You can't get your news from Facebook or the KNS.

BTW, Tracie Sanger went full blown insane tonight. So did Karen Carson. And do a lesser degree Lynne Fugate.

Where do you get your news? I would love to know. Watch a BOE meeting. You'll catch on real fast.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I just did not understand Sanger's objection tonight that Armstrong carried that return letter from the State AG to the commission, rather than to the BOE?

Why would Armstrong have carried it to the BOE, when the BOE had *already* ignored his counsel to wait for the return letter before approving (and signing off on) the super's new contract? For the BOE, at least, that contract was a done deal before the letter ever arrived.

Armstrong reiterated again tonight that he had addressed in his revisions to the contract's text all the issues he had with the original contract *except* whether its date could be extended and that the majority of the BOE simply would not wait for that return letter before resolving this last issue.

Why, then, does Sanger continue to act as if the law director somehow failed the BOE?

It has certainly appeared to me that Sanger and four others simply refused Armstrong's counsel--and they were still refusing it tonight, speaking instead of their desire to obtain outside counsel on the question?

Bad Superintendent's picture

Sanger lied a lot last night

What really happened before.


Bud Armstrong repeatedly told the BOE the contract was not legal. They argued with him like petulant children throwing a long temper tantrum. Then last night they have the gall to say Armstrong didn't tell them or didn't "communicate" to them the contract was not legal. Then they want to hire their own attorney. Read the county charter idiots. You can't fix stupid.

I've never seen a meeting like last night's BOE meeting. Sanger and Carson are willingly and knowingly violating the county charter. It is almost like they are daring to be ousted.

How does the political endorsement of Tracie Sanger or Karen Carson help any new BOE candidate after last night? They are becoming Pariah.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I tried last night to "factcheck" Carson's comment that she did not know of any TN school district that *did not* renew its super's contract annually.

I still don't know how just *every* district handles this, but I was able to confirm that Carson is correct that at least some TN districts renew these contracts annually. I came across a newspaper reference to Williamson County doing this, for example.

What remains to be understood, then, is whether this practice is "legal" under the 1992 Education Improvement Act? Has the practice ever been challenged at trial? Presumably it hasn't, else Armstrong would have cited the verdict of any such challenge?

All I know is that the rationale outlined in that 2001 AG Opinion for how legislators had contemplated the cycle of elections and contract renewals would work resonated with me, namely that the cycle should and would ensure that newly-elected BOE members could carry to their positions the desires of their constituents as to the retention or dismissal of the system's appointed super.

I have always supported this model of appointing rather than electing a super, but I don't see that the model can be palatable to voters rightly wanting to impact that process through their elected BOE members *unless* some mechanism is available to them to afford them that impact in a timely manner--the operative word there being "timely."

Clearly, the effect of always keeping a super's contract extended four years into the future thwarts voters' real participation in this process.

Bad Superintendent's picture


They were both being knowingly ignorant last night. They know better. Bud Armstrong has explained over and over that Knox County is unique because of our county charter. What you saw last night is willful insubordination. Neither of these women are as stupid in real life as they appeared last night. It was a staged show. So much for the Sunshine Law.

As long as the Haslam family pollutes our local political races this will continue. Voters have no control over the BOE.

These two feel invulnerable because it is so close to the next election. They know an ouster this close to election probably won't happen. So they'll just flood the subways on their way out of town. They also get cover via the KNS's never ending false narrative that McIntyre is a Saint and the best Super we ever had.

What the KNS never reports is that ACT readiness dropped from 26% to 24%, the graduation rate increase came from graduating students who should have been held back, and that the preparation rate is the worst ever. Now the junior colleges have to take a year of school for remediation because the kids didn't learn in high school what they should have.

There is a special place in Hell for these people that have lied so much. Carson fooled a lot of people for a long time. Not many are fooled now. I don't think Sanger fooled anyone except in the election. Question is, will those 2nd District people be fooled again? If you see Haslam money behind a candidate, remember Jim McIntyre and what he did to us.

Rachel's picture

They were both being

They were both being knowingly ignorant last night.

That's a neat trick. Want to explain it to us?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I think I can explain it.

"Knowingly ignorant" means realizing that one lacks any facts to answer a given question, yet presuming to answer that question anyway by making an assertion purported to be factual.

For example, when Karen Carson claimed last night "I don't know of any school districts in TN that don't renew their superintendent contracts annually (and extend their termination dates fully four years into the future, I guess?)," when clearly she hadn't made any effort to know what other school districts do, her bravado was "knowingly ignorant."

It hasn't been that difficult to find out what other school districts do.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Does Dillon's Rule guide?

As to whether this annual renewal of a super's contract was anything the Education Improvement Act foresaw or addressed, all we know is that it does not appear to be explicitly addressed in the resulting body of statute.

For that reason, I have wondered if, were the annual renewal process to be challenged in court, Dillon's Rule would apply?

This longstanding legal concept, you may recall, says that when state law does not expressly permit a certain action on the part of local government, our assumption should be that the action is NOT permissible.

Neither Joe Sullivan nor the KNS mentioned Dillon's Rule in their recent editorials slamming Armstrong's counsel to the BOE (of course, I don't think Armstrong mentioned Dillon's Rule to the BOE, either), but it surely seems apropos?

Statute does not expressly permit a local BOE to renew its super's contract annually, therefore our assumption should be that the action is NOT permissible?

Min's picture

State law limits a DOS's contract to a duration of four years.

It is therefore illegal to extend an existing DOS's contract beyond four years. OTOH, it is legal to negotiate a successor contract. The successor contract also cannot have a duration of more than four years. If a DOS was initially given a two year contract, that contract could be extended to a total of four years, but no more.

I know it seems like a matter of semantics, but the law is all about semantics. :-)

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Yes, and all those guidelines are expressly stated in the body of statute comprising the EIA.

What is NOT expressly stated is whether a BOE may, for no particular reason except to thwart voter impact on the process, renew a super's contract every year to keep its expiration date far, far into the future.

Given that this particular issue hasn't been raised in any legal challenge, all we have to go on is (1) the "legal intent" of the EIA as expressed in that 2001 AG Opinion, and (2) this legal concept inherent in Dillon's Rule that local government has no more authority than is expressly provided in statute.

Dillon's Rule provides that in the absence of express permission in statute, the state's intention is to limit the authority of local government.

(In the few minutes since I asked above whether Dillon's Rule is relevant to this issue, I've phoned a local attorney who assures me it is.)

Min's picture

I'm not following.

I don't really see the point you're making. If a DOS is hired on a one year contract, his contract expires in one year. If the BOE decides to rehire him for another one year contract, that is clearly permitted within the statute, and that contract will expire in one year. The BOE can then rehire him for another one year contract, ad infinitum.

If BOE attempts is to extend the existing one-year contract, as opposed to entering a new contract, then the contract can only be extended to a maximum of 4 years, at which point it will expire. The BOE can then negotiate another contract with the same DOS, and the terms can be exactly the same as the preceding agreement, but it will be a new contract with a new expiration date.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


What's happened here in Knox County, Min, is that the BOE has now entered into seven four-year contracts with McIntyre over the 7 1/2 years he's been here (this counting the most recent one from November 2015).

Every year, one year into the "new" contract, the BOE has again "renewed" the contract for another four full years.

So at no point during McIntyre's 7 1/2 year tenure have taxpayers *ever* been obligated for any less than three full years of his pay, should the BOE cut him lose, and for much of every year taxpayers have been obligated for closer to four full years of his pay.

Thus far, this is not a "renewal" process we are seeing followed in any other of the state's largest school systems (and it's especially doubtful that it would be a "renewal" process followed among the state's smaller school systems, I'd think).

Thus far, it's a process unique to Knox County.

Min's picture

Okay, I see what you're saying now.

And Knox County Legal should have called the board on that practice long before now. The whole point of the statutory four year maximum is to limit the financial obligation of the employing board in the event that the BOE and the DOS come to a parting of the ways before the contract has expired.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Correction: Mac's first "renewal" in 2009 was for just a three-year term and Mac did not see any "renewal" in 2013, so he again fell to "just" a three-year guarantee of income then.

Below are the years in which his contracts were "renewed," generally for a new four-year term, and exact term of each contract:

2008 (initial contract), 7/7/08 - 7/7/12

2009 ("renewal"), 8/31/09- 9/31/12

2010 ("renewal"), 10/6/10 - 10/6/14

2011 ("renewal"), 10/11/11 - 10/1/15

2012 ("renewal"), 10/1/12 - 10/1/16

2014 ("renewal"), 1/1/14 - 12/31/17

2015 (November 30 "renewal"), 1/1/16 - 12/31/19

This is the pattern of "renewals" we do not see duplicated as to frequency and term among the other large urban school districts in TN.

(I have these contracts in my e-mail inbox, compliments of a BOE member, if you or anyone else would care to look at them.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

MNPS appears NOT to renew its super's contract annually?

Hmm. I mentioned above that I'd learned last night that Williamson County Schools DOES renew its super's contract annually?

Well, I've learned this morning that Metro Nashville Public Schools apparently DOES NOT do so.

At the time MNPS superintendent Dr. Jesse Register announced his resignation, in September 2014, his contract was set to expire just nine months later, in June 2015.

How Knox County got into this situation of *always* having three to four years remaining on its super's contract, I do not know--but apparently it isn't the norm just everywhere, as Karen Carson asserted last night?

See coverage as to Register's employment contract in The Tennessean, here.

Cece's picture

last night's meeting

The Law Director made very clear last night that Nashville and Memphis are different from Knox County.


Karen Carson isn't a lawyer. Doesn't play one on TV either. And apparently she needs to get her hearing checked out. That was a disgrace last night. Carson and Sanger were trying to get even with the Law Director because he wouldn't let them break the law. Doug Harris is a weak Chair.

Bud Armstrong is a patient man. I was impressed.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Shelby Co renews its super's contract only at its term date

...but that contract, entered into on July 1, 2014, also carries an "automatic extension" provision of the exact sort the TN Appeals Court found unenforceable in its 2005 decision in Heatherly v. Campbell County BOE, for Pete's sake!

That is, the Shelby County document provides that the BOE's inaction at the end of the contract's term is to result in an automatic one-year extension!

I'm having difficulty linking it for you, but the question I posed of Mr. Google to bring it up was "employment contract for Dorsey E. Hopson with Shelby County Schools."

In any event, that Shelby's initial contract with Hopson is renewable only at the end of its term appears in keeping with how Armstrong says such a contract should renew, but that "auto extension" clause appears illegal per the Heatherly decision we've learned about recently?

(CORRECTION: Dorsey's first contract with Shelby County ran for three years, from 9/13 to 9/16. The contract I refer to above turns out was his second one and runs for four years, from 6/14 to 6/18. There is no evidence online that he has received any further renewals beyond this one offered him in 2014, after his first year as super, which is in keeping with the language of the contract that provides that "the parties may agree to enter into a new written
contract at the conclusion of this contract." Also note that his contract has a MAXIMUM buy-out for termination without cause of 18 months salary--not any four years salary. I'm not able to link the two contracts to have come up in my Google search because they are pdf files, but you may also search for them and read them online.)

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Hamilton Co appears NOT to renew its super's contract annually?

And, like Metro Nashville, it appears that Hamilton County (Chattanooga) does NOT renew its super's contract annually, either.

A Chattanooga-area TV station reported that when Hamilton County bought out former superintendent Jim Scales' contract in 2011, it was just the contract's final year they paid out (with some additional benefits, it appears).

See that media coverage here.

So, contrary to Carson's assertion last night, I do not see that any of the other three of TN's largest school systems "renews" its super's contract every year like Knox County does?

Yeah, Williamson County does--but who else does?

Tamara Shepherd's picture

More on Hamilton County's practices

Also, a Times Free Press article from June 2015 indicated that Hamilton County's super, Rick Smith, earned an average evaluation score from BOE members of 4.02 (on a five-point scale), but nevertheless had only two years remaining at that point on his existing contract.

So again, based on what I'm reading online today, I do not see that Carson's concern is founded that KCS cannot recruit a new super unless it has the ability to renew that person's contract annually and/or to always ensure that person three or four years of continued employment.

That simply doesn't look like an assurance the other three urban districts are always giving their supers?

R. Neal's picture

Seems like a four year, $1

Seems like a four year, $1 million+ contract ought to be enough to attract a candidate.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


i sure would have thought so.

And it doesn't appear that Charles Lindsey got any such treatment from KCS, either. We bought out his contract for six months' pay and a consulting agreement.

So when did KCS begin "renewing" the super's contract annually and for four full years and when, exactly, did taxpayers get stuck with this "golden parachute" clause?

Was it a Ray & Associates thing or a Broad Foundation thing, or what???

It's new, that's for sure...

Tamara Shepherd's picture

A clarification/retraction about Williamson Co

So I previously linked a news story to attest to the fact that Williamson County--and just them, so far--is renewing its super's contract annually?

Well, it appears that even Williamson County still isn't renewing its super's contract annually for fully four more years, like Knox County has been.

I say Williamson must not be doing this because I've now come across another news story in The Tennessean reporting that as of July 2015, Williamson's super Mike Looney had just 2 1/2 years, not four years, remaining on his contract.

Yes, Williamson is renewing its super'c contract annually, but no, they're still not keeping taxpayers obligated at all times to cover four more years of his pay.

So among the Big Four school districts AND Williamson County, I've yet to find anybody "renewing" their super's contract with the same frequency and for the same duration Knox County is.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Metro Nashville vs. Knox County BOE termination agreements

Heh. I just found online the final contract between Metro Nashville Public Schools and its former superintendent, Dr. Jesse Register, which ran from July 1, 2011 through June 30. 2015.

Here's what Register's contract through last year provided in the event of his termination by the BOE without cause:

14. Termination Without Cause . The Board may terminate this Employment Contract without cause upon 30 days notice. As consideration for this agreement, the Board agrees to pay Dr. Register an amount equivalent to 12 months of his current salary, or for the term of the Contract, whichever is less. If any other governmental entity with legal authority to do so causes the termination of Dr. Register due to imposed changes in the governance structure of Metro Nashville Public Schools, the Board agrees to pay Dr. Register an amount equivalent to 12 months of his current salary, or for the term of the Contract, whichever is less and for accumulated and unused sick leave.

And here's what McIntyre's contract has provided in the event of his termination by the BOE without cause:

15. Termination of Agreement and Severance Terms--

B. KCBOE may unilaterally terminate the Contract at any time and for any reason through the vote of a simple majority of the members of the KCBOE at an appropriately publicly-noticed School Board meeting that comports with Tennessee law. In the event of such termination, KCBOE shall pay to the Superintendent his full salary consistent with the terms of this Contract from the actual date of termination established by the KCBOE through the expiration date of the Contract. All other KCBOE paid benefits shall continue until the expiration date of the Contract, or one year, whichever is less, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon by the parties herein.

So Register got a max of one year's income and no benefits, but Mac got a max of four years' income and one year's benefits?

And Register supervised a much larger district with many more employees and with a more problematic (poorer and non-English speaking) student demographic than did Mac?

And Carson is concerned that we can't replace Mac with another like him?

Sheesh. Maybe Register would like a ride on the Knox County BOE gravy train.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Still more on Hamilton County's practices

I see that I neglected to mention that when Hamilton County terminated the contract of its former superintendent, Jim Scales, in 2011, its BOE found it necessary to buy out just the final year on his contract, per media coverage here.

So both Scales in Chattanooga and Register in Nashville had a year or less remaining on their contracts at the time of their dismissal, not any four years.

Also, a smattering of news stories on Scales' replacement in Hamilton County, new super Rick Smith, *appears* to indicate that he was hired in 2011, saw his four-year contract renewed in both 2013 and 2015, and is expected to see it renewed again in 2017--although I am reading between the lines in this regard.

If my understanding is correct, Smith's contract is being renewed more frequently than any super's contract in Shelby or Davidson County, but still not so frequently as McIntyre's contract has been.

In any event, among the Big Four urban school districts, I have yet to find any super's contract except McIntyre's being renewed every single year.

Rachel's picture

So, I think McIntyre has had

So, I think McIntyre has had his fair share of problems, including one big one relating to his lack of communication skills.

But I don't think he's the devil, I don't think he's the cause of all the problems in Knox County Schools, and I don't think getting rid of him is a panacea.

And it scares me to death to think who might be next, cause I can imagine the pendulum swinging way too far the other way into GOBerville.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Really, my desire to see McIntyre replaced has been due to his dogged support for some genuinely stupid reform initiatives (like the teacher eval model, in particular).

And of course we've seen how successful he was in building that coalition of like-minded, reform-minded supers statewide. I looked in on LIFT's site just this week and saw that he's now up to seven fellow supers as members--out of how many school districts statewide since Shelby split into so many Special School Districts? It's 142 districts now, I think? Let's face it, he's in a pronounced minority among supers...

I don't think he's "the devil" either, but I do think that undoing some of the most damaging of the state's recent reforms (again, the teacher eval model, in particular) will necessarily be a bottom-up effort.

Down here at the district level, McIntyre's continued presence has posed the first obstacle.

Whomever the BOE ultimately hires, I do hope it's someone more clear-eyed as to what type of "reforms" might actually be worthwhile to implement.

SnM's picture

What will the clash between

What will the clash between the (presumed) forces angling for an elective schools superintendent position and the (presumed) Haslam Inc. cherry-picked, air-lifted appointed candidate yield?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I'm not sure whether all four part of the so-called "teacher faction" support an elected super?

I thought Hill and McMillan do, but Bounds and Rountree do not?

But not sure...

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I'm worried that Haslam or the Gang of Five or both may already have someone in mind, but...I sure wish they'd appoint an interim super until after the election, then allow the BOE seated in September to conduct the search.

Agreed that this needs to be a careful, thoughtful search process.

Bad Superintendent's picture


Which GOBerville?

The 7.5 white men remaining? HT SC

The Blue Streak bunch? The Sequoyah Hills brain trust? The Northshore Baby Boomers? Old North or Old South?

GOB doesn't not equal GOP.

Who exactly are the Good Ole' Boys these days? You seem to know so much about this. Do tell.

fischbobber's picture

The cause of the problems.

McIntyre is the direct cause of the vast majority of the problems at KCS. Teaching is a people business and the teachers are its greatest asset. McIntyre has decimated the talent pool. Not only is the assessment procedure inherently unfair for teachers, our system has now progressed to the point that we don't have the staff to even properly administer tests that our teachers careers and livelihoods depend on.

So what about parents? Well, I'll give you a for instance. I know a parent whose child's PSAT was stopped at least four times during the course of the test for intrusion in the classroom. This was a deadline test that determined eligibility for, among other things, the National Merit Scholarships. One qualifies for that scholarship by being in the 99% . The child scored in the 98%. That's a 50,000 dollar a year mistake caused by shitty personnel policy. This is in addition to budget cutbacks that force the cost of school supplies and extracurricular activities back on the parents.

There's more, and I could go on because this crappy policy goes all the way to Nashville, but let me just say this. McIntyre may not be the devil, but I hope there's a special place in hell for him and everyone in state and local government who would screw our kids over in their petty pursuit of money and power. It's time to turn our education system back over to educators. It's time to bring Donna Wright back and pray that she has enough time and support to get KCS out of charters and the privatization business, and back into the constitutionally mandated public school business.

Jennifer Owen's picture

What other districts do isn't relevant.

If we consider State law, without ALSO considering our unique, Knox County Charter, we fail to have all of the necessary pieces of this puzzle.

The bottom line is, that it does not matter what other systems do. It does not matter how State law is followed by other districts. Other districts do NOT have the same charter as Knox County. Only Knox County is required to follow the Knox County Charter. It has no impact on other districts and other districts have absolutely no impact on Knox County Schools.

When certain Board members call their buddies in other districts, and ask them what is legal, they get some very skewed information. EVERY member of our Board should be very aware of this. Refusing to do their due diligence, year after year, may have contributed to forgetting that they must consider all laws that impact each decision.

Of course, when one states, in a public meeting, that she wants an attorney, whose name she doesn't even know, to just show up and do what she wants him to do, we have little hope that they might actually be concerned with following ANY laws.

Our kids deserve better. Our communities deserve better.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Jen, the fact that Knox County is a Home Rule county has no bearing whatsoever on how the provisions of the state's EIA are to be applied here.

Over and over, both our BOE and our commission have been advised through the years that the school system is guided by just state law, that the BOE exists and is guided by just state law.

So it *does* matter what other school districts are doing, to the extent that all school districts are supposed to be doing the same thing (as relates to the EIA's provisions).

Bad Superintendent's picture

Law Director

Yes. The legal representation agenda item last night in BOE was about Knox County Charter specific code as regards to the Law Director. You are exactly correct.

We are also bound to state education code outside our county charter. This is not difficult to understand. It requires two working ears and a brain. If you watch this:


You can see that Karen Carson and Tracie Sanger do not have two working ears and/or a brain.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Right, Armstrong's comments last night about Knox County being a Home Rule county (guided by a charter) related just to what that charter says are his duties a law director.

The charter does not, however, have any impact on what the BOE's duties are, as those are outlined just in state law (and possibly reiterated in the charter, but not defined any differently).

FYI, there *is* another Home Rule county in TN, namely Shelby County, but there *is not* another county in TN that elects its law director. Only Knox County does that. In every other TN county, the position is appointed.

Shasta Whatley's picture

National Search Firm

Is it just me or do you guys think we need another "National Search Firm" to tells us dumb hillbillies who would be best suited to lead KCS?? Since the state thinks we're too incompetent to vote for one, I would imagine our school board thinks the same of themselves. We have seen nothing but problem after problem with the latest selection they give us, so why would we waste thousands of dollars on another ridiculous hire. I guess eventually they'll get one right. Sounds like another waste of taxpayers dollars to me.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I certainly think the BOE should consider people within the school system (Bob Thomas was a finalist last go-around) and maybe other locals, as well, but I do support their using a search firm.

I just hope that this time, they don't use a search firm known to place Broadies. Ray & Associates (whom the BOE used last go-around) and Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates are two such firms I therefore hope they avoid.

Last time, the BOE vote on a search firm was pretty evenly split. Five opted for Ray & Associates and four opted to use the TN School Board Association's (TSBA's) service.

I sure wish they'd gone with TSBA--although I hear that even TSBA has become a bit "reform-minded" in recent years and might therefore produce corporate-type candidates lacking the background in public ed I think most of us want to see evidenced.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I'm trying to re-watch the BOE's hour-and-a-half long discussion at work session concerning its legal representation and I'd better make a couple of corrections here as to who I've reported said what...

First, Carson didn't say "I don't know of any school districts in TN that don't renew their superintendent contracts annually," she said "I don't know of any school districts in TN that wait until their superintendents' contracts are expired to renew them" (although I have already found that Dorsey Hopson's contract with Shelby County Schools provides that "the parties may agree to enter into a new written contract at the conclusion of this contract").

Second, it was Fugate, not Carson, who first expressed concern that the BOE could have difficulty recruiting a new super if it is not allowed to renew his contract until near its expiration date--presumably to keep him assured of years more income in the pipeline--but Carson soon "seconded that emotion," as did Harris.

Sorry. It was a long (but really important) discussion and I didn't try to take any notes.

MLDaugherty's picture

I always thought appointing a

I always thought appointing a superintendent would help take the politics out of the process and that would be good for Knox County Schools. I was wrong. After Knox County BOE's experience with the appointment process,it is very obvious that politics was not taken out by appointing a superintendent. However, the days of an elected school superintendent are over. Now, hopefully the BOE will do a better job of appointing a person that is experienced and qualified for the job. Having a national search for a new superintendent might appear to be the solution to finding the best person for the job, but selecting someone from this area makes a lot of sense. The average superintendent stays on for 6 or 7 years and moves on to better things or retirement. A person comes in and it takes them several years to get to know the Central Office staff, the principals, teachers, and the community. By the time they have the knowledge to do a good job, they leave. Knox County Schools would be in much better shape if 7 or 8 years ago they would have selected some outstanding local educator that was experienced and qualified and knew the strengths and weaknesses of our community.That person would know the administrators better and know their strengths and weaknesses and be able to put together the best administrative team at each school. We had several available at that time. Former Bearden High Principal and Knox County Schools Personal Director Mary Lou Kanipe, assistant superintendents Bobby Thomas and Donna Wright all would have been good picks. No matter the thinking of the Haslam's or other powers in Knox County, there are people in our community that would be excellent leaders of our school system. The founders of constitution of the United States had enough sense to give the state's control of their education system. The educational needs of states are very different. We do not need a national BOE and we do not have to have someone from another part of the country to lead our school system.

Jenny Kitts's picture

Food for Thought

Very well said.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I still support this model of an appointed super and an elected board--especially given that it benefits smaller, rural districts less able to elect a qualified super from among their locals--but I sure regret that Knox Countians haven't seen the model operate as it was intended.

The way our BOE has managed to thwart the timely participation of the electorate, it's no wonder so many people would like to revert to electing their super.

I do think, with the state legislature reconvening this month, it might be worthwhile to seek a sponsor willing to introduce a bill to tweak the language of TCA 49-2-203(a)(14)(A), which is the statute guiding the super's contract renewal process.

That language needs to more clearly convey the "legislative intent" of the EIA's framers (per that 2001 AG Opinion) as to how the contract renewal process should afford the electorate its timely impact on the selection and oversight of each district's super.

January is a great month to grab the sleeves of some legislators and start making appeals to them of this sort.

MLDaugherty's picture

Tamara, I appreciate the fact

Tamara, I appreciate the fact that you actually use facts to form your opinion on this topic. I agree with your thoughts on the smaller districts in Tennessee's rural areas. If the appointment process worked the way it should, we would have a much better chance of having good superintendents.I think it will continue to be politics as usual.I do not have much confidence in Tennessee's legislature doing much of anything good for public education considering that they have done everything possible under Haslam to destroy public education. Tweaking the renewal contract language might be an exception. We should keep our fingers crossed.

I do not think Knox County can avoid the tremendous negative influence that the Haslam family and the other group of influential members of our community have on the BOE. I am pleased with the direction the board will take with the addition of Tony Norman and others. However,It will be only a matter of time before the BOE is again controlled by the same folks that have made the bad decisions in the past. A few years ago, a candidate running for the BOE might spend four or five thousand on a campaign. All you have to do is look at the campaign treasury report of Doug Harris or Tracie Sanger to see the current BOE is bought by the rich and powerful in Knox County. It is difficult for a qualified grassroots candidate to compete with an opponent with $50,000 or more in the treasury.

Bad Superintendent's picture

to compete with an opponent with $50,000 or more

"It is difficult for a qualified grassroots candidate to compete with an opponent with $50,000 or more in the treasury."

It is interesting to see how far Haslam apprentice Richard Briggs has gone with the fact that he never knocked on doors other than for a photo op. It was the Haslam money and connections.

It takes two terms apparently for people to figure out what a candidate is for. Karen Carson should have been sent home long ago. But Haslam money.

We have two small newspapers that do a good job reporting on the BOE and the KCS. But the big newspaper the Knoxville News Sentinel is in the pocket of the Haslam's. And it does what it is told. And that is a huge problem. Area TV stations to a lesser extent are also compromised. Area radio too. When Pilot got in trouble Hallerin was right at Big Jim's side.

If you want to see how bad things are at KCS. Look the the KCS Twitter today. Today they have a re-tweet from County Commissioner Bob Thomas attending a campaign kickoff for a favored Haslam BOE candidate. What does KCS do? They re-tweet it of course. Ethics, who needs ethics?

Things will not get better until some how some way the Haslams are removed from their control of Knox County Schools. The Haslam brand for local politics should be damaged by now. In this election we will see if their money and connections are as powerful as they used to be.

It is clear the Haslam leadership hasn't improved schools or helped students. It certainty has harmed teachers and parents. But people don't know what they don't know. And until they know, this may start all over again.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I said (Tuesday at 1:31 p.m.):

What's happened here in Knox County, Min, is that the BOE has now entered into seven four-year contracts with McIntyre over the 7 1/2 years he's been here (this counting the most recent one from November 2015).

Every year, one year into the "new" contract, the BOE has again "renewed" the contract for another four full years.

So at no point during McIntyre's 7 1/2 year tenure have taxpayers *ever* been obligated for any less than three full years of his pay, should the BOE cut him lose, and for much of every year taxpayers have been obligated for closer to four full years of his pay.

Thus far, this is not a "renewal" process we are seeing followed in any other of the state's largest school systems (and it's especially doubtful that it would be a "renewal" process followed among the state's smaller school systems, I'd think).

Thus far, it's a process unique to Knox County.

Min, I didn't say so in the above post (but I did mention elsewhere in this thread) that the other huge problem with McIntyre's every contract is that it has lacked any cap on what taxpayers must pay out to him in the event he is terminated without cause.

I pointed out elsewhere that Metro Nashville capped Register's payout at one year's income and Shelby County capped Hopson's payout at 18 months' income. Knox County, though, capped McIntyre's payout at however many months are remaining on his contract--and renewing it annually as the BOE has, that's always been 36 to 48 months remaining!

So more explicitly, the one problem is that KC's board has renewed this four-year contract nearly every year and the other problem is that KC's board has also failed to appropriately cap this max payout.

No Damn Body serving as super in the state's other urban districts has been assured four years' income upon termination without cause. It's unprecedented and our board has flat out "given away the store."

THIS is why I was so alarmed to hear Carson (and Fugate and Harris) maintain in Monday's work session that if we don't keep "giving away the store," we can't expect to find any super to replace Mac.

If they HAVE NOT read these other supers' contracts, they're trying to make their decisions in an informational vacuum and if they HAVE read these other supers' contracts, they're knowingly sticking it to their constituents. Any way we slice it, though, they're not doing their jobs.

Dante's Beatrice's picture

The real GOB in Knox County

The real GOB in this valley are loyal members of the Pilot/FJ Cappuccino Kingdom.They are well rehearsed and know their masters.Obedience training pays off.

Haslam Rino Recht auf die Macht
Haslam Rino right to power

Ostendasque populo caerimonias et aurum manu Iustum
The hand with the gold rules and is righteous

Exhibits in testimonio..(Big Money for Jim) Doug Harris,(Alice's Red Queen) Karen Carson(Pam Trainor/Krist Kristi 2.0) Tracie Sanger

...nuff said...

Shasta Whatley's picture

On Target Dante's

Look at the damaged goods that KCS has evolved into over the past 5 years. From a mass exodus of quality teachers to the appointment of corrupt robotic principals across the county to the fiasco we call school security. Look at the wasted money on 'Lead Teachers' & 'Curriculum Coaches'. "Somebody's gotta take it", yes, an actual quote. How many invented positions have we dreamed up in the Central Office?? I've laughed at this one for a while, "Executive Director of Innovation and School Improvement". I don't think no ones ever explained that one. My point is this, If we are naive enough to repeat the same mistake again with a Search Firm, then we deserve a J-Mac 2.0. Let's keep Jim around until we get the new board members in place and then let them decide on the direction to take. No need in letting the East Tennessee Three decide on a Superintendent before they hit the road this summer.

Tamara Shepherd's picture

Legal representation: New developments in tonight's BOE mtg

I caught just parts of tonight's televised BOE meeting, as they had no audio for the first 40 minutes plus, I was in and out of the room, and I missed the tail-end of the meeting, but...

One development was that Carson's motion passed asking that Armstrong provide all BOE members his written and cited overview of which parts of the 2003 Consent Decree between BOE and commission he believes no longer apply, and why. I lack the complete backstory on Carson's request, but she and a couple of others charged in tonight's meeting that they have found Armstrong's piecemeal opinions on this question confusing? I don't understand, either, why the four-member "teacher faction" voted against Carson's request? Personally, I will welcome from Armstrong (and/or from anybody else) such a complete and well-cited account of how that relationship should be working today, 13 years after the Decree.

Another development at the tail-end of the meeting was that Sanger cited Tennessee AG Opinion #04-098 from 2004 (one year after the Consent Decree, you'll note) that opined that "a school board has the authority to employ legal counsel to advise or represent the board." You'll see if you follow that link that she's shor-nuff correct. This is the point at which I missed those last few minutes of the meeting following her revelation, but I did go online moments later both to pull up the Opinion and to verify at Lexis Nexis that the statute the 2004 Opinion cited hasn't changed any since that time (it hasn't). I'm not sure, though, what the BOE elected to do with this new info, if anything.

These were both interesting developments and I'll be glad to have whatever further info is to be had on both subjects.

Min's picture

The question is... would they pay for that counsel? Out of their own pockets? Because I can see the county commission refusing to appropriate funds to pay for another attorney, since there is already a county attorney who advises the board.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


As to possible financial constraints in doing this, I don't know if Carson's interest is in hiring an outside attorney on an ongoing basis to serve at BOE meetings or in hiring one only to research and opine on these questions relating to the most recent superintendent contract.

If the former, the BOE may or may not be able to perform some line item transfer of monies already appropriated to schools to cover the ongoing cost.

If the latter, the BOE could almost certainly perform some line item transfer, as the cost would likely be miniscule to cover the one-time cost. Carson wondered in Monday's work session if the cost might be as little as $500?

Bad Superintendent's picture

not sure Carson is right

"Another development at the tail-end of the meeting was that Sanger cited Tennessee AG Opinion #04-098 from 2004 (one year after the Consent Decree, you'll note) that opined that "a school board has the authority to employ legal counsel to advise or represent the board."

Carson and Sanger keep forgetting we are unique because of our county charter. That AG opinion applies to counties that are not charter counties. Right? And how can a consent decree trump a county charter?

How many times does Law Director Armstrong have to remind these people about the county charter? He's done it at least a dozen times. Are they stupid, or willingly ignorant?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


As to possible legal constraints in doing this, I had also wondered whether that state law would or would not apply in Knox County.

In its entirety, that statute reads...

TCA 49-2-203(b)The local board of education has the power to:

(5) Employ legal counsel to advise or represent the board; you see that it really doesn't suggest if or why any board may not have such power.

Meanwhile, the Knox County Charter reads...

Sec. 3.08. - Knox County Law Director.


It shall be the duty of the Law Director to take the oath of office prescribed for other County officials and appropriate to his/her office before entering upon the discharge of his/her duties, and thereafter to execute and administer all of the legal affairs of the County, including litigation, drafting of contracts or other documents, instruments and papers, the investigation of titles, and to advise and counsel County officials and the Commission on all legal matters affecting their respective offices. No elected or appointed officer or employee of the County shall employ any other attorney to represent the County or any officer, board, or member of the Commission unless he/she shall first be authorized and empowered to do so by resolution of the Commission. Provided, however, that the Law Director shall have authority, within the budget approved by the County Commission for this purpose, to hire outside counsel when, in the judgment of the Law Director, such is necessary for the fulfillment of his/her duties under the Section.

...and that word "all" isn't ambiguous.

But can county law ever trump state law?

In general, I thought not.

On the other hand, it's true that voters actually cast their ballots to adopt this body of charter law.

My *suspicion* is that the state law still trumps, even given that voters voluntarily declined this particular statute helpful to their local BOE, but I will certainly be receptive to learning more on the question--and from all sides.

reform4's picture

My understanding...

.. is that laws of the General Assembly that have general application to all municipalities would trump a conflicting clause in a home rule charter. The intent of home rule was to eliminate the need for the GA to pass bills to amend the charter of a particular municipality.

This opinion may be reflective of this:

There is no question but what the Tennessee General Assembly can pass general legislation that conflicts with and supersedes home rule charters. Article XI, Section 9 of the Tennessee Constitution (as amended in 1953) provides that:

In the even of an affirmative vote by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon, and until the repeal thereof by the same procedure, such municipality shall be a home rule municipality, and the General Assembly shall act with respect to such home rule municipality only by laws which are general in terms and effect.

The exception to this, appears to be, taxation methods.

THAT being said, I'm not sure if it's a matter of two conflicting laws, but rather that the State granted the BOE a right, and the County voluntarily voted to restrict ourselves not to exercise that right. The safe move is to follow the charter.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


My understanding is that laws of the General Assembly that have general application to all municipalities would trump a conflicting clause in a home rule charter.

Yes, that's my understanding, too.

And I also recall that when Knox Charter Petition passed that local ballot initiative barring county employees from serving on commission, it turned out that it could not be added to the local charter because it was in direct conflict with a state law affirming that county employees could serve on commission.

The operative word there was "conflict," which I believe is generally resolved in support of the state level dictate.

Bad Superintendent's picture

yes, of course

"But can county law ever trump state law?"

Absolutely. We are one of if not the only county in Tennessee with an elected Law Director. In that recent past Knox County Charter has trumped T.C.A.. It's called constitutional construction. And it is not easy to understand. Hence, court cases.

But no matter how many times Law Director Armstrong tells these insubordinate BOE gang of 5 rubber stamping idiots, they protest they know better.

They need to be ousted. It is the only way to get a BOE that will follow the law.

The real question is, who is behind this BOE gang of 5 rubber stamping idiot theater and what are their objectives? One of the objectives is clear, to get rid of Bud Armstrong.

If you want to see the Who's Who of this charter insubordinate regime, look here:[going]=30&starts[maybe]=0&starts[invited]=0&starts[watched]=36

And what do you see? The same Nine Counties One Vision people that wanted to gut the county charter in 2008. The people that have defended McIntyre at every turn. In other words, Team Haslam.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I hear you and Steve saying you think it's "safer" to go with the charter (Steve said that, at least), but...

The approved county ordinance denying county employees the ability to serve on county commission had to be tossed, since it violated a right to that group that was established in state law.

Why, then, wouldn't this other approved county ordinance (just that part of the charter instructing that the Law Directer only may advise the BOE) also have to be tossed, since it also violates a right to that group that is established in state law?

I'm listening, you understand, I just don't thus far perceive any difference in the two situations.

Bad Superintendent's picture

not sure where you got that.

"The approved county ordinance denying county employees the ability to serve on county commission had to be tossed, since it violated a right to that group that was established in state law."

It was a local court case that caused that bad charter amendment to be struck down. David Buuck was the lawyer. Back when he was in private practice.

I don't see how you go from that to your supposition. The charter isn't the problem. It is the false claims from the BOE rubber stampers.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Me: The approved county ordinance denying county employees the ability to serve on county commission had to be tossed, since it violated a right to that group that was established in state law.

Bad Super: It was a local court case that caused that bad charter amendment to be struck down. David Buuck was the lawyer. Back when he was in private practice.

Yes. I'm asking don't you think a "local court case" filed by the BOE, if need be, would net the same result? The same result that the state law would be upheld?

And I'd forgotten what Scott reminds, too: The Jordan decision held in part that a Home Rule county is nevertheless unable to impose term limits locally on school board members whose positions exist under state law. That was, after all, a state supreme court ruling,

Recalling that, I am very much persuaded that this state law permitting the BOE outside counsel would prevail.

(Thanks for dropping by, Batman.)

MLDaugherty's picture

Yep.....I remember that, I

Yep.....I remember that, I was the plaintiff in that case.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


LOL--and I'd forgotten about that, too, Michael! I just knew of you back then, but hadn't yet met you...

So your read would be particularly insightful. Do you also see this similarity I'm citing between your case and one that could potentially arise from the BOE should they assert this right to hire counsel contained in state law?

(Although again, Scott's point about rights the Jordan decision afforded BOEs seems likely the last word on the topic.)

MLDaugherty's picture

I was shocked after the

I was shocked after the Charter amendment passed denying county employees the right to serve on County Commission. I had planned to run for County Commission at some time in the future. I had read a great deal on the subject and it was clear to me that this Charter Amendment was denying me rights given to me by the Constitution. I talked to several lawyers and legal minds and they all agreed that I would have a good case. However, given the legal expenses of challenging the Charter Amendment, I did not pursue the challenge at that time. Months later I decided to join in with the other Charter Amendment challenges. David Buuck's work on the case was excellent. David, my brother, and others... that I cannot remember to give credit, spent hours and hours researching Tennessee constitutional law and case history. What David presented to the chancellor was outstanding and easily convinced him to overturn the Charter Amendment preventing County employees from serving on County Commission.I learned a lot about the supremacy of the state constitution over local governments during this case. Regardless of Knox County's home rule, I think the state law permitting the BOE outside counsel will prevail. I would like to be wrong!

GSD's picture

Better link :

Better link : (link...)

Anything Sandra Row-Row supports.....

Bad Superintendent's picture


Same destination, much better link. Thanks.

Sandra Row-Row is a good indicator or bad things. If she's for it, be agin it.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


My *suspicion* is that the state law still trumps, even given that voters voluntarily declined this particular statute helpful to their local BOE...

Or is it the case that voters could be perceived to have "declined" this statute?

That is, would we have to consider when each law, county and state, came into being?

The charter was adopted sometime in the late 1980s, but when was the statute passed?

If these dates are, in fact, relevant. I have no idea.

R. Neal's picture

My understanding is that a

My understanding is that a charter can create new law for a county or municipal government but not circumvent existing state law?

Paging Scott Barker. He's the expert on charters, so I will defer to him.

barkers's picture

Saw the Bat Signal

I don't have time today to research anything or to read most of the recent posts, but typically a state law of general application would prevail. In the Jordan decision, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state law governing school boards prevents the application of the county charter's term limits provision to school board members. I think it would be wise to apply the same logic.

barkers's picture


I found a few minutes to re-read Jordan, look up the state law and some of the case law (just looking at the statute ain't enuff). This particular state statute, which is the Education Improvement Act of 1991, trumps the county charter in the event of a conflict. The Jordan decision involved a different section of the law, but the court made it very clear that state law prevails. I didn't find any case law directly on point regarding legal representation. In one case the Metro Nashville law department represented the planning commission but not the metro council (both were defendants, and the court said in a footnote that the situation left the council without representation. Anyway ...

The plain language of the state statute gives the board the power to hire legal counsel. Based on the logic in Jordan, no one - not the law director or the mayor or county commission - can keep the board from retaining a lawyer. In fact, there doesn't seem to be anything (other than budget constraints) preventing the board from hiring a staff attorney and not using the law department at all. Of course, I'm not a lawyer, so there might be other factors of which I'm unaware.

Hope this helps.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


Thanks again, Scott. This sounds right to me, too.

BTW, I just found a typo in my last post and went back to change the word "able" to "unable" in this sentence:

The Jordan decision held in part that a Home Rule county is nevertheless unable to impose term limits locally on school board members whose positions exist under state law.

Sorry 'bout that.

GSD's picture

THIS is interesting....

Two of Mc's "Executive Team" resigning, and it looks like they will be gone ASAP:


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