By Sally Absher

Rally Before BOE meeting on  Wednesday July 1. A KCS Parents has organized a rally to be held on Wednesday June 1 at 3:30 in front of the City County Building. It will last till 5:00 at which time participants are encouraged to attend the BOE meeting to show support for KCS teachers who have been non-renewed.

Kelly Wright created the event “Rally to send a message to the School Board and the Superintendent ( She said, “I am not a teacher, except by example of course to my children. We tell children at school not to be bullies … but how can we tell them if we don’t lead by example….if we do nothing we are as bad as the bullies!” The above linked FB page describes the event as follows:

“We as parents, grandparents, family members, teachers, and community members are coming together to show support for our teachers. Teachers who are non-renewed with just explanations of ‘You don’t fit the vision’ or teachers such as ones like Ms. Christina Graham who are given no reason at all, is unacceptable to us as parents who want the best education possible for our children.”

She adds, “Wear a red shirt to show support!!”


Long-time BOE member Sam Anderson resigns in wake of Joe Armstrong Indictment. Last week Sam Anderson, who served on the Board of Education from 1976 to 2010, resigned from his part-time position with Knox County Schools because of his connections to Joe Armstrong, State Representative (District 15). A federal grand jury indicted Armstrong last Wednesday on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., attempted tax evasion and lying to the IRS. He has pleaded not guilty.

Superintendent Jim McIntyre sent an email to Board members on Tuesday, in which he explained, “While he believes he has not been involved in any wrongdoings, with revelations of some links to the Joe Armstrong case, he did not want to be a distraction to the work of the school system.

Yep, KCS has enough distractions to the work of the school system already, with illegal and fraudulent grant acceptance practices and such…

According to McIntyre’s email, Anderson was a part-time senior advisor for “high needs schools,” earning roughly $45,000 annually.


How’s that Balanced Calendar working for Oak Ridge? A source told the Focus that there seems to be a bit of buyer’s remorse up in Oak Ridge over the adoption of the balanced calendar (aka year round school). He said, “I teach music lessons, mostly in Oak Ridge, where they’ve gone to the 45/10 schedule. The parents over there ‘didn’t realize’ how short the summer would be for the kids involved in band camp (which begins July 15).”

Parents are also complaining that their older kids can’t get hired for summer jobs. The parents are ‘mad as hell’ and many of them are already lobbying to revert to traditional schedule (one week fall & spring break). Yes, the devil is always in the details.  All seven Oak Ridge schools will be on the 45/10 “balanced calendar” with teachers reporting July 27 and the first day of school on August 3, 2015. School ends on June 3 for students and June 6, 2016 for teachers.

Apparently, Dr. McIntyre is having second thoughts as well. In a memo sent to Board members last week, he indicated he will not recommend that the District move to a year-round school calendar.

McIntyre explained, “While the balanced calendar could potentially be beneficial, we have many other important educational priorities to attend to in the next few years, including teacher compensation and personalized learning,” adding, “This appears to be a calendar that satisfies the interest in including more significant breaks during the academic year, without adding additional cost.”


Commissioner Ownby Discusses Teacher Non-renewals. Commissioner Jeff Ownby discussed the topic of teacher non-renewals at last week’s Commission meeting.  Ownby said that he had heard from a number of concerned parents about some teachers who had been non-renewed.

He cited County Commission Ordinance O-14-2-101, which Commission passed in February 2014 to specifically “add language relative to an employee’s right to speak openly and freely regarding any issue involving Knox County Government, its agencies, Boards, or its elected or appointed officials so long as such speech does not violate the laws of slander and libel.”

Ownby said that at the time the Ordinance was being considered, he specifically asked would it extend protection to teachers who spoke in public forum at Board meetings, and he was assured that yes, it would cover ALL county employees.

Many upset by the recent string of non-renewals are convinced certain teachers were non-renewed as retribution for speeches made in public forum at BOE meetings. Dr.  McIntyre has denied this, but Ownby said there is a public perception that this is the case.