District 9 Gets Zero Representation Selecting Hamilton County Superintendent

Photo: Hamilton County School Board Meeting, July 15, 2021

Image Credit: Hamilton County Schools – YouTube & Hamilton County Schools

Published July 16, 2021

The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

At the Hamilton County School Board meeting last night, the board made the decision to move forward with accepting applications for interim superintendent and voting on qualified candidates to fill the position on Monday without a representative from District 9.

Chattanooga, Tennessee At Night

District 8 Board member, Tucker McClendon made the motion which was seconded. 

The motion summary was stated as follows: 

“The board will receive applicants for the position of interim director of schools (Superintendent) who will not be a candidate for the permanent position.  Applicants must have administrative experience in Hamilton County Schools and must get their application into this Board by email no later than 8AM, Monday morning.  Ms. Murray’s team (Hamilton County Schools Chief of Talent) will verify administrative experience and promptly notify the Board of the appropriate candidates.  There will be a special called meeting Monday afternoon at 5:30PM to select an interim.” 

District 1 Board Member, Rhonda Thurman said, “I think that we need to wait before we do anything, District 9 right now is not represented at all.  District 9 is one of the largest districts in the system and right now there’s no representation for them and I think they need to have a voice.”  

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Thurman stated that board has delayed voting in the past until elections were complete and new board members were seated because “they were the ones that would have to work with the new superintendent.” 

“Right now, we don’t have a District 9 Representative.  I think the Commission is supposed to vote on August 4th and we still have a superintendent until August 17th,” Thurman said. 

Thurman stated that Dr. Bryan Johnson’s initial contract would have been up July 17th

The second contract, dated February 20th, 2020, “gave him a $42,500 raise and the last year and a half, that’s been $63,750 additional we’ve paid him and he got a $10,000 bonus last year in February so that’s $73,750,” Thruman said. 

“So, we still have a superintendent and he’s been paid to do this job so I don’t know why we’re in a big rush.  This is very fresh to us.  I think it’s very wise that we wait,” Thurman said, “We still have time to do this.  All we need is 15 days to tell the public we’re going to vote on a superintendent or what we’re going to do or what we need to do so doing nothing is one of our options.” 

Thurman made a motion to wait until a District 9 School Board Member has been selected before a vote is taken on the interim superintendent.  

“I just don’t think it’s fair not to give an entire district an opportunity to have a voice in who the superintendent or the interim is going to be,” Thurman said. 

However, no board member seconded Thurman’s motion. 

District 5 Board Member Karista Jones said, “While I do think it’s important that all districts are represented for the interim, I think it’s more important that every district is represented when we are choosing the permanent superintendent.” 

Thurman replied, “People say, well, it’s not a big deal for District 9, well you know what?  There’s a lot of people in District 9 that think it’s a big deal.  How would you like it if somebody said you can’t vote because it’s not a big deal, your District doesn’t need to be represented, not a big deal?” 

“I can’t believe the people on this board think it’s not important,” Thurman continued, “ They deserve to be heard just like everyone else.  Just like the people in my District and those people in your District.” 

Thurman warned the Board that when they rush into decisions, “we mess it up every time…  contract extension for one…I tell you why you don’t need to do these things, you do them anyway and it costs the taxpayers money.” 

Thurman addressed the Board, “I hope you hear from the people of District 9.  I hope they blow your phone up.” 

The vote was then taken on the initial motion to accept candidates for and vote on an interim superintendent. 

The motion carried with all members voting in favor except for Jones which abstained and Thurman who voted against. 

You can find your District’s School Board member’s contact information HERE.

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About the Author:

Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative 

Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Directory for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

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