By Steve Hunley
It seems to me one of the most popular activities for politicians is a particular game that we know all too well: it’s called the Blame Game. Fortunately for most politicians, the Blame Game requires no real ability, talent or intelligence. Everyone can play. It is also a very versatile game, as one can sing to it, tap dance to it (which seems the most popular form of playing the Blame Game) or even squall to it.
Most every member of the Knox County Board of Education has been busily engaged in playing a fast and furious version of the Blame Game, all specifically designed to prop up the formerly pristine image of their handpicked Superintendent, Dr. James McIntyre. We’ve seen the gamut of emotions from A to Z from most of the Board where they have tried to blame just about everybody but the Superintendent for the security failures at Powell Middle School and Hardin Valley Academy. The daily stories done by Jamie Satterfield of the Knoxville News-Sentinel have been like slow torture for McIntyre and most of the Board, who have flopped about like chickens set on fire, flapping, squawking, and screeching.
The Board members, except for East Knox County Board member Mike McMillan, have been steadfastly in denial and have never acknowledged Dr. McIntyre’s failure to communicate about the security concerns at the two schools. McIntyre has admitted to the Sentinel that he did not not provide the members of the Board with the full audit report, which laid bare all the problems with equipment that either didn’t work or was sub par. The Superintendent never advised the Board members that the firm hired had no performance bond to protect the taxpayers, much less the children inside the schools. McIntyre pointed to his “report” on the situation, which was a memo detailing two trifling details and little more than a sentence about “deficiencies.” McIntyre’s description of deficiencies would be like saying the Titanic encountered some problems while at sea.
Indya Kincannon, Karen Carson, Doug Harris, and Thomas Deakins have all acted less like guardians of the children and the taxpayers than stooges for the Superintendent’s failure. Now the Board members are desperate enough to actually take the blame themselves instead of McIntyre. Poor Deakins even went on the radio to take the blame for not having known the details of the problems at Hardin Valley and Powell; evidently it was his fault, because he didn’t ask any questions. Deakins never acknowledged the fact that McIntyre never released the entire audit results, nor really ever pointed to the seriousness of the security failures. Instead, with a cry worthy of a bad Lifetime movie heroine, Deakins proved his love for the Superintendent by falling on his own sword. Unfortunately, it didn’t fool anybody.
The Board members will continue to dance and sing and squall by playing the Blame Game. Dr. McIntyre has said had he to do it over again, he would provide the full audit report to the Board. Frankly, it’s time for McIntyre to accept full responsibility for this sordid mess and he and the Board should move to clean it up. The Board should at the very least give McIntyre a stern reprimand and advise him that filtering important information won’t be tolerated in the future.
The people of Knoxville and Knox County aren’t tapping their feet to the rhythm of the Board’s musical version of the Blame Game.