By Sally Absher


Fulton Student Awarded “Golden Eagle” Scholarship

More than 100 Latino students and families attended the region’s first Latino College and Resource Fair hosted at Fulton High School on Tuesday.  The event planning team surprised student team member Ana Gutierrez Roman with a scholarship funded by vendor registration fees.

The “Golden Eagle” scholarship is named in honor of an original poem written by Gutierrez Roman, a graduating senior with DACA status enrolled in Knox County Schools since she was seven years old.  The award was presented by Fulton Principal Rob Speas and Project GRAD Executive Director Ronni Chandler on behalf of the LCAR planning team.

Several colleges and organizations collaborated to present the inaugural event, including:  Fulton High School, GRAD Knoxville, Knox County Schools, Centro Hispano de East TN, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of East Tennessee, HOLA,  Robledo Translations, Maryville College, Pellissippi State Community College, University of Tennessee Knoxville, and King University.  Students attended from Knox County, Oak Ridge, Grainger County, Lenoir City, and Sevier County schools.  Twenty-five vendors representing colleges, agencies, and nonprofits participated.


Disparities in Educational Outcomes Task Force Community Meeting

Superintendent Jim McIntyre and the members of the Disparities in Educational Outcomes (DEO) Task Force invite students, families, educators and community members to participate in a community meeting to discuss and provide input in addressing achievement gaps and differences in discipline in the Knox County Schools that might be related to income, race, language and/or disability.

The community meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Austin-East Magnet High School Performing Arts Center (2800 Martin L. King, Jr. Avenue).  The meeting will begin with a general session followed by small group breakout sessions for more in-depth discussion. We are inviting participants to share opinions, triumphs and challenges with regard to their observations and personal experiences with disparities, discipline and education. Light refreshments will be provided.

The meeting will be streamed live on and broadcast live on Comcast Cable channel 10.


Board of Education Special Called Meeting to Discuss McIntyre Evaluation

Board Chairman Doug Harris has scheduled a special called meeting to discuss Dr. McIntyre’s evaluation and contract renewal. McIntyre, who makes $222,800 annually, plus $800 per month for travel expenses and five weeks of paid vacation, is reportedly asking for a two year contract extension.

Based on a review of the recently published Board narrative evaluations, he will likely receive that extension in a 5-4 vote. McIntyre’s current contract expires on December 31, 2017, approximately three months after any newly elected BOE members will be sworn in after the March 2016 elections. There is some chance that the Superintendents current 5-4 majority could flip to a 4-5 or even 3-6 minority, which may not bode well for his continued employment by KCS.

If a new Board should vote in 2016 to unilaterally terminate his contract, he would collect “severance pay” consisting of his full salary from the date of termination through the end of his contract, plus one year of benefits. McIntyre seems poised to pad his “golden parachute” with two years and fifteen months of remaining contract (roughly $741,000 plus a year of benefits) than with the remaining 15 months on his current contract.

Of course, the Board can always elect to “unilaterally terminate his contract for cause for conduct consisting of neglect of duty, insubordination, inefficiency, incompetence or unprofessional conduct,” as those causes are defined in Tennessee Code §49-5-501. With the instances of grant mismanagement, illegal hiring practices, and other questionable actions by the superintendent that were revealed over the past year, the Board may have grounds for dismissal for cause.


Congress Moving Forward on Conference to “Fix” No Child Left Behind

The U.S. Senate voted to appoint all 22 members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee as conferees to work with members appointed by the House in a conference to fix No Child Left Behind (NCLB).

Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-Wash) released the following statement:

“We are pleased that all of our fellow committee members will be a part of this important step forward as we work to fix the broken NCLB law for students, parents, and teachers. This is a law that everybody wants fixed and we are optimistic that our bipartisan work can continue and produce a bill both the House can Senate can pass and the president sign into law. It is time to work to get a bipartisan result.”

The conference committee is expected to meet this week to discuss and vote on amendments to the legislation.

Of course, not “everybody” wants to see the broken NCLB law fixed. Many people would rather see the law repealed and the oversight of education returned to states and the local government.