Grundy County Board of Education selects new chair; tables other major discussions
GRUNDY CO., Tenn. —
It’s been almost two months since five football players at Grundy County High School were charged with attempted aggravated rape. Since then, the school removed its high school's football coach, the chairman of the board resigned from his position, and questions came out regarding the performance of the director of schools. After Monday night's school board meeting, only one of those issues has been resolved.
"Everybody give Ms. Phyllis a hand," said board member Paul Gallagher. As Vice-Chair, he served as the interim chair since Robert Foster resigned from his seat. During Monday's meeting, the board selected Phyllis Lusk to lead as chairwoman.
That was the first item on the board's agenda. The next major item discussed hiring a new football coach. Director of Schools Jessie Kinsey says 26 peple have applied for the job and she's ready to begin interviewing them. She said before she could hire someone, she would need to know how much money to offer them.
"I think the expectation has set for it to be high," Kinsey told the board. In past meetings, board members told Kinsey they would not consider an amount until they knew who the coach was going to be. Board members told Kinsey they would prefer the coach also be a teacher at the high school. That's because paying for the salary would be cheaper, since teacher/coaches receive supplement pay in addition to their teaching salary. Kinsey said Casey Tate, the high school's old coach, was able to make up to $12,000 in supplements.
Board Member Gary Melton suggested narrowing the candidates down to three finalists, before determining a salary.
"It would be best we proceed with the interviews with the understanding that it [salary] is negotiable," Melton said.
The board agreed to narrow down the search and tabled the discussion until next meeting.
Another major agenda item; creating an evaluation tool for Kinsey. That was supposed to be resolved during a special-called session in November, but that meeting was cancelled. During the board's work session, Phyllis Lusk said the board was two years behind in creating an evaluation tool for Jessie Kinsey and aren't on track to evalute the director this school year.
"In Ms. Kinsey's contract, it says that the evaluation instrument must be in her hands by August 31st," Lusk told the board, citing attorney Chuck Cagle. "And it must be based on a strategic plan that was adopted by the board in June, therefore the evaluation must be done, I believe, in the month of December. I don't think we're ready to come up with an instrument at all tonight."
The board said they do a "Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis" every January. The board decided to table the evaluation tool until their February meeting, after they've completed the SWOT analysis. They'll then work on an evaulation tool for next school year to be in line with Kinsey's contract.
The board did make some decisions on other items on Monday night's agenda.
The board updated handbooks for both the county's high school as well as the elementary schools. Director Kinsey said both handbooks needed to update its wording on "zero-tolerance" offenses. According to state policy, these are cases where students commit offenses with weapons, firearems, or drugs or students who commit battery against anyone within the school system. The state policy says any of these offenses can result in suspension or expulsion of the student. Kinsey wants to add the following line to the local handbooks to match the state:
The director of schools shall have the authority to modify this expulsion requirement on a case-by-case basis. TCA 49-6-401(g); TCA 49-6-3401(g)
The board passed a motion to approve.
The board discussed two other updates that only applied to the high school. They lowered the number of credits seniors need to graduate. Kinsey says this was after the school went through a class schedule change, and this new requirement is more realistic for students. They also determined a student must be enrolled in the high school for at least six semesters (the equivalent to three years) before their senior year, in order to be ranked among the top ten students of their class. That means a student who is eligible and wanted to graduate early, would have to forfeit their eligibility to be ranked within the top ten of their class.
The school board also had to accept an update to their board policies, as recommended by the Tennessee School Board Association. The TSBA called to update policy 5.500, which correspond's to the county's "Discrimination/Harassment of
Alleged victims of sexual, racial, ethnic and religious discrimination/harassment shall report these incidents immediately. This report should be made to the immediate supervisor except when the immediate supervisor is the offending party. If the immediate supervisor is the offending party, the report may be made to the Federal Rights Coordinator or the __________.
That blank is now filled by the "Supervisor of Instruction." Board members say there is one for the elementary schools and one for the higher level schools. They added that the two positions cannot be filled by the same gender.