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School Board Denies Appeals of McCarthy and Simpkins

By DALE GRAHAM

The Cheatham County Board of Education voted last week to uphold the decision of School Board Director Stan Curtis and deny the appeals of two former Cheatham County educators, Angela McCarthy and Jenny Simpkins.

McCarthy and Simpkins both filed grievances after the demotions, claiming that former Director of Schools Tim Webb did not complete the portion of the evaluation process that he is responsible for, which counts for 50% of the total evaluation, for either of them. Also, that Webb demoted both of the administrators back to teachers, which was in violation of First to the Top Act, an act that was passed in 2010 while Webb was the State Commissioner of Education, as well as in violation of State Board of Education Policy. The First to the Top Act made annual evaluations mandatory.

Both teachers had requested that their names be removed from the quantitative data (test scores), that the BoE Chair compose a letter stating that Webb was derelict in his duty by not performing evaluations and that it be inserted in their files. At the September Board Meeting where both women spoke, McCarthy also requested that she be reinstated as an assistant principal in Cheatham County Schools. Simpkins requested that she be reinstated as SHS Principal and to be properly evaluated this year. This year, Simpkins is teaching at Cheatham County Central High School. McCarthy is serving as Assistant Principal at William James Middle School in White Bluff.

At Thursday’s meeting the Board voted to uphold Curtis’ decisions, but to remove qualitative data (evaluations) from McCarthy and Simpkins files, but leaving the quantitative data, (test scores) in. They also agreed to enter a “partial exemption letter” be entered into the files.

The vote concerning McCarthy was 4 yes (Tim Williamson, Dan Moore, Dianne Proffitt, Michele Collins), 1 no (William Johnson), & 1 abstain (Brian Chase) due to potential conflict of interest.

Concerning Ms. Simpkins appeal the vote was 5 yes (Tim Williamson, Dan Moore, Dianne Proffitt, Michele Collins and Brian Chase), 1 no (William Johnson).

The Board also met in regular session Monday night. It was a very brief meeting, but the board approved 2 policy revisions that may interest employees. The first revision was made to Policy 3.404 concerning Private Vehicles, and includes: “To use a private vehicle for school purposes, the employee must have the written permission of the director of schools or his designee and proof of vehicle insurance coverage in a sufficient amount, as determined by the director of schools.” Also that there will be a: “A standing permit for school purposes. The permit shall state the particular purpose and whether it includes transportation of students. b. A special permit for all trips involving students, including field trips.” And at the end of the policy this was added: “The Board recognizes that volunteer parent drivers are often needed to use their private vehicles for school purposes. The volunteer parent drivers who use a private vehicle must provide proof of vehicle liability insurance coverage in the form of an insurance certificate in a sufficient amount, as determined by the director of schools.”

Also revised on 1st reading was Policy 4.406 concerning Use of the Internet. The following was added:

SOCIAL NETWORKING

1. District staff who have a presence on social networking websites are prohibited from posting data, documents, photographs or inappropriate information that is likely to create a material and substantial disruption of classroom activity. This includes posting information regarding activities within the school system that would be inappropriate to share with the public.

2. District staff are prohibited from accessing personal social networking sites on electronic devices during school hours except for legitimate instructional purposes.

3. The Board discourages district staff from socializing with students on social networking websites. The same relationship, exchange, interaction, information, or behavior that would be unacceptable in a non-technological medium is unacceptable when done through the use of technology.

Both policies will have final reading at the Board’s November 5th meeting at 7p.m.

The Cheatham County Board of Education meets the first Monday of each month at 7pm in the Board Annex building on Elizabeth St. in Ashland City.

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