By Steve Hunley

Despite assurances by Superintendent Jim McIntyre and every member of the Knox County Board of Education that they are “listening,” they steamrollered teachers and others who felt it was inappropriate to extend McIntyre’s contract for yet another year.  Tennessee State law allows a Board of Education to extend a superintendent’s contract for a maximum of four years and McIntyre is now at the maximum.  Just why there was a need to extend it beyond the three years it had left to run at this time is a mystery, especially considering McIntyre is to be reevaluated by the Board again next August.


The superintendent’s allies were well organized and Monday’s meeting was carefully orchestrated.  A host of principals, all of whom serve at the pleasure of McIntyre, gathered to sing praises to his name and character.  Those allied to the do-nothing Chamber of Commerce were dutifully recorded in their love for a man it seems is difficult to love.


South Knoxville Board member Pam Trainor’s meltdown Monday night has been the subject of a great deal of conversation and not a little snickering.  Prone to hysterics any time she is challenged, Trainor went on a rampage last night, exclaiming that the privacy of a constituent was violated by East Knox County Board member Mike McMillan.  That particular constituent had extolled McIntyre while assailing a You Tube video of Hitler in his bunker and excoriating teachers.  This same constituent described those teachers opposed to McIntyre as “scary” and roundly denounced those educators in violent terms.  Trainor had the email forwarded to every member of the Board of Education, along with a note exclaiming, “This is HUGE!!!!”


McMillan was asked for a copy of the email by State Representative Gloria Johnson and he sent it along.  McMillan ably defended himself and pointed out any communication sent to the entire Board was not confidential nor protected.


Trainor’s public pout included her saying that by voting to extend McIntyre’s contract she was likely signing her political death warrant and made a great deal out of being a mother, not a politician.  Trainor lamented that she thought politics was out of the schools, eliciting laughter from the audience.  Trainor is no stranger to politics, having run for and lost a campaign for the Knox County Commission.


The revelation of the email ended Trainor’s ability to play both sides against the middle and doubtless she is awfully mad about that.  Pretty much everyone agrees she is the most vulnerable member of the Board of Education in next year’s election and even Trainor admitted she probably only has a few more months to serve.


Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch spoke on behalf of McIntyre, as did a representative for Sheriff Jimmy “J. J.” Jones.  One wonders what the local media’s reaction would have been had these public officials had come to praise an elected superintendent?


With some fifty speakers appearing before the Knox County Board of Education, it was almost an even split between those arguing for an extension of McIntyre’s contract and those opposing it.  There were a few speakers who wasted just about everybody’s time by going back and forth and really saying nothing.


The various members of the Board began stating their own positions, all of them telling the teachers how much they loved them, yet only Mike McMillan loved them enough to agree with them.  Most every member of the Board referred giving McIntyre enough time to address teacher concerns, yet at the same time giving him four years to serve as superintendent.


The deck was stacked from the beginning and nobody should at all be surprised.  Only Mike McMillan had the courage to stand by his convictions and truly represent his people.


That may well be rectified with the approaching elections.