UnifiEd Responds to Rhonda Thurman's Comments at School Board Meeting

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The question of Who's responsible for the wave of change happening in Hamilton County schools is up for debate.

One education advocacy group, that's been vocal throughout this process, responds after a Hamilton County school board member calls it out for taking credit for Rick Smith's retirement.

In 2014, the non-profit UnifiEd was created to serve as an information hub to let parents, teachers and students know what's happening within the school system.

Last week - they urged the community to contact local school board members to fire Rick Smith after the board chose not to buyout his contract.

At the school board meeting last night, the outspoken Rhonda Thurman told the group to stop patting itself on the back and taking credit for what happened to the now-retired Rick Smith.

School board members met Thursday evening discussing who will now fill-in as Rick Smith's replacement.

A process - most board members agree hasn't been easy.

Rhonda Thurman says she's sick of other groups, people and organizations getting in the board's way.

"Anybody that says they know how this process works is a liar," she said.

And Thurman didn't stop there. "There are people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars that are heads of organizations that find great pleasure in sticking their finger in our eye and taking credit for things they have no right to take credit for, making people resign - which is absolute Ludicrous," she said.

We asked Thurman who specifically she was talking about. She tells us quote "Elizabeth Crews of UnifiEd."

Crews responded to Thurman's statements late this afternoon by email... saying quote "To say that our Executive Director is paid over $100,000 is a ludicrous and a blatant falsehood."

But, in addition to the salary comment - Thurman had even more to say.

"Anybody in this room that's trying to take credit for what's happened as far as Rick Smith is concerned or anybody else is concerned, you are patting yourself on the back way too hard. You had nothing to do with this," she said.

Crews says that in response to their organized call to action hundreds of people called or emailed their school board members many adding their personal thoughts.

"When I get forum letters, a hundred of them that say the same thing, just signed by a hundred different names, trust me after the fourth or fifth one, they all got deleted," she said.

Crews also sent us her 990 tax form. Her executive director position falls under the senior leadership line, and she actually make $65,000 a year.

We talked to Thurman today by phone She tells us she hasn't heard from UnifiEd since making those statements last night.

But, she stands by what she said.

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