By Sally Absher

After being unable to break a 4-4 tie between Mike McMillan and Doug Harris in September, the Knox County School Board’s first order of business at last Wednesday’s Regular BOE meeting was to elect a Chairman and Vice-Chairman.

Patti Bounds, who was out of the country on vacation last month, joined fellow new members John Fugate, Terry Hill, Amber Rountree, and McMillan to give McMillan 5 votes, while returning BOE members Gloria Deathridge, Doug Harris, Lynne Fugate, and Karen Carson voted for Harris.

Hill and Harris were nominated for Vice-Chair, which Harris won with a cross-over vote from John Fugate. Lynne Fugate volunteered to serve as the Tennessee Legislative Network (TLN) representative, and was elected unanimously to that position. McMillan assumed chairmanship of the meeting.

Prior to the vote, then-Chair Lynn Fugate said “We have someone from Public Forum who wants to speak to this… we’ve never had anyone speak to board reorganization but I believe Ms. Hopson wants to.” Karen Carson rolled her eyes as Lauren Hopson came to the podium.

Hopson said, “Almost a year ago to the day I came before you to express my frustration with things happening in our school system. During the past year, a few of those things have changed.”
She also said the board member representing her school has already made two visits to the school (Thank you Patti Bounds). She said, “I do not believe these changes would have come about without a year of teacher visits to these board meetings and a lot of media attention.”

She listed a number of things that have remained unchanged, and urged a vote for a member who “has been supportive of teachers, and has had the backbone to challenge policies that teachers and parents have viewed as detrimental to their students, and who will be willing to make some of these changes in the future… Mr. McMillan.”

Later in the meeting, the board took up the controversial “Board of Education Guidelines,” aka “Agreements between the Board of Education and Superintendent.” Chairman McMillan asked Bud Armstrong, Law Director, what the current status of the document was.

Armstrong said, “Right now, you don’t have an agreement. No action means there is no agreement. You do not need to vote to make it go away, because an agreement cannot bind future boards, there are constitutional issues, and it is unenforceable.”

Lynne Fugate said, “It’s in the minutes from the retreat, it’s on the agenda… I think we need to let it go. There is no will to create another agreement.”

Carson said, “There is no motion on the floor, if there is no motion and no second, there’s really nothing to talk about.”

No one objected, so the infamous “Side Agreement” is no more. The BOE will operate under the existing BOE Policy BK, “Civility” and Roberts Rules of Order, as prescribed in Policy BCBF.