By Steve Hunley

It really isn’t graceful to say, “I told you so,” but sometimes even the best of us just can’t help ourselves.

A couple of years ago, The Knoxville Focus was the ONLY media outlet in Knox County to write about the “agreement” between superintendent of schools Jim McIntyre and the Board of Education.  The language and contents of this particular document was so egregiously awful one doubted what one read when perusing it.  This agreement has finally gotten some attention in the local media and people are claiming to be utterly shocked.  This agreement includes language prohibiting board members from asking questions that might stump or embarrass the superintendent or his senior staff.  Another was that a board member who was not on the prevailing side of an issue had to shut up and defer to the majority and allow the Board Chair to be the spokesperson for any media questions.  That particular provision alone was vehemently called into question by Board member Mike McMillan who flatly described it as “likely unconstitutional and just downright un-American.”

Another provision of the “agreement” requires the superintendent’s permission before information requested by Board members could be provided to them.

Having served on the Board of Education, I was stunned when I learned about this agreement when it was approved.  I could not believe any elected body would adopt any such agreement.  McIntyre has hijacked for himself functions that clearly belong to the school board.  The board members are elected by the people of Knox County and any request for information by a board member should not be delayed, nor should it require the superintendent’s personal approval as to whether or not it is disseminated to a board member.

I have to admit I am somewhat bemused that the local news media has finally grasped this story and it certainly is a story.  People need to know about it and the weak defense offered by those board members who claim it came as the result of the aftermath of “Black Wednesday” are being disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst.  McIntyre’s explanation that it was just something the board felt strongly about and wanted to do is preposterous on the face of it.  I doubt the document was even written by the Board. If I was betting, I would bet that it was written by Jim McIntyre and rubber stamped by the majority of the board.

The fact the local news media has only just now discovered this agreement should embarrass them all.  The fact that only Mike McMillan of all the members of the Knox County Board of Education found the agreement objectionable should speak volumes.

The incoming members of the Board of Education – – – John Fugate, Amber Rountree, Terri Hill and Patti Lou Bounds – – – may very well see things quite differently.