Ailshie withdraws from consideration for Hawkins director of schools position

Jeff Bobo • Jun 4, 2014 at 10:23 PM

ROGERSVILLE — The minority ruled Wednesday evening as director of schools finalist Jim Ailshie withdrew from consideration just as the Board of Education was beginning a legal debate over its current "super-majority" appointment policy versus the "simple majority" state law.

Ailshie had four out of seven votes on the BOE. The current BOE policy requires a super-majority — or five votes — to appoint a director.

Board members came to Wednesday's meeting armed with a variety of legal opinions and ready for a fight.

County Attorney Jim Phillips pointed out that a Tennessee statute requires simple majorities for the appointment of school directors. He further pointed out that the Tennessee School Board Association had issued a letter in spring of 2012 recommending that all Tennessee school boards adopt the simple majority policy.

Phillips told the BOE it had two options. It could leave its super-majority policy as is and hope that it stands up in court if it is legally challenged.

Or, the BOE could rescind the super-majority policy and adopt the simple majority policy, and proceed with the director appointment under the new policy.

Board chairman Randy Collier asked if the BOE can have a "higher standard" than the state law.

"That's the issue," Phillips said. "There is no case law on it. There's mixed legal opinion on it. There's a TSBA policy insight which in effect, recommends doing away with it (super-majority)."

Ailshie became the top contender for the director position after the BOE failed to meet the salary requirements of its first choice, Bristol City Schools Supervisor Dixie Bowen.

The three board members who opposed Ailshie's appointment are Holly Helton, Debbie Shedden and Bob Larkins.

For an expanded version of this article, please see Thursday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.

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