Broughton seeks Board of Education vote to remove Yennie

Rick Wagner • Jul 8, 2013 at 2:39 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County Board of Education member Todd Broughton has requested a BOE vote on terminating Director of Schools Jubal Yennie’s employment if he declines to resign.

But because of Tennessee law and the board’s normal review schedule, school leaders won’t consider his employment until early September.

BOE Chairman Dan Wells said the request the week of June 24 came too late for a required 15-day public notice in Tennessee law.

Further, Wells said Saturday, June 29, and announced at the board meeting July 1 that the regular process of giving the board evaluation forms and then having those compiled and discussed at the September board meeting would be followed again this year.

Wells of Lynn Garden declined to say which board member requested the agenda item, but Broughton of Bloomingdale confirmed that he requested the termination be put on the school board agenda after receiving a petition to that effect signed by more than 200 people, mostly in the Sullivan North High School zone. Specifically, Broughton said the petition requests Yennie’s resignation or termination.

Broughton and Wells represent most of the North zone, and Broughton said he didn’t know what chances the ouster would have or whether it might get more than one vote.

In addition to the requirement for a 15-day notice, state law requires that any contract decision for a director or superintendent be the first agenda item of the meeting.

During the discussion of the director’s evaluation, BOE member Betty Combs of Bluff City questioned the evaluation forms, saying that some of the items were not appropriate for school board input.

“There’s a lot of things on there the board members wouldn’t know,” Combs said, referring to questions about how Yennie interacted with the school staff. “We wouldn’t know. They don’t complain.”

She suggested a “homemade not store-bought” evaluation form, and Wells said that could be considered.

Broughton, along with residents of the North and South high zones, remain critical of a scenario Yennie has recommended to merge North and South into one high school, with the other building becoming a middle school for both zones.

Yennie has consistently said that the goal he has in mind is to make the best use of school system resources and make expenditures across the system in different schools as equitable as possible.

With North High at not much more than 500 students, the smallest in the system, he said it is difficult to maintain the same programs there as elsewhere.

North is the only one of the four high schools without a cosmetology program, and the building houses North Middle as a school within a school.

The proposal, called scenario 3, would result in the closing of Colonial Heights Middle — where Kingsport’s BOE and superintendent have since informally discussed assuming control if the county agreed — and the closure of the middle school portion of Sullivan Gardens K-8 School.

During the July 1 BOE meeting, North zone parent Katrina Smith reiterated opposition to the merger. Although the scenario has not identified which school would become a middle school, the widespread assumption has been that South, which has the larger student population of the two schools, would become the high school.

“The children of Sullivan North are scared,” Smith said, adding that the recent retirement announcement of longtime North High Principal Richard Carroll has made students even more worried.

Carroll, who is ending a 47-year career with the school system and has been North principal since 2001, this winter opposed the merger proposal during a public meeting at North High.

On June 29, Carroll said his retirement was driven in part by the likelihood one of his assistant principals, Wayne King, would be named to the vacant North Middle principal position, which occurred July 3. Carroll also acknowledged all sorts of rumors were flying about his leaving the system — including that he might have been removed as principal of North if he didn’t retire. He said he didn’t know where they came from; although, he added, “If there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.”

Broughton said another issue that has raised the ire of the North community was Yennie’s decision not to keep Sandra Ramsey as co-principal of Ketron Elementary. Ramsey, former Kingsley Elementary principal before it and other elementary schools in the North zone closed, has worked 42 years in the county system.

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