Reported By Chris Bundgaard, Reporter - bio | email
CHEATHAM COUNTY, Tenn. -
For the first time since word of numerous resignations in Cheatham County were reported on Friday, the system's school's director has commented directly on the numbers.
In an email Tuesday morning, schools director Dr. Stan Curtis disputed figures compiled by the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) that indicated 25% of teachers had resigned system-wide, and that Cheatham County High School had a 50% vacancy rate among teaching positions.
"Fifty-nine certified personnel have resigned since June 15, 2012 until present. The actual percentage is 15% attrition instead of 25%," Dr. Curtis wrote in an email saying the information can be found on the Cheatham County Board of Education Web site.
The schools director also indicated in the email that, "eight positions are available at Cheatham County Central High School and not 18. We have over 400 applicants for all of our available positions."
After being apprised of the Cheatham County Board of Education figures, The Tennessee Education Association (TEA) said in an email to Nashville's News 2 Tuesday afternoon that "it stands by its numbers."
School parent Tracy O'Neill, who has been a vocal opponent of recent school board policies, told News 2 Tuesday that "I don't care what number they throw out there, the bottom line is there is still a problem that teachers are afraid to speak up about what they believe in."
All this follows an overflow crowd of parents who packed a Cheatham County Board of Education meeting Monday night where parents questioned a variety of issues including the number of teachers resignations.
This came after a march by the parents who have formed a group called Save Our Schools (SOS) from the Cheatham County Courthouse to the Board of Education prior to the meeting.
"I don't know how they are going to refill those positions in time when school reopens in August," said O'Neill.
"This situation is going to be taken care of," school board member Tim Williamson said at the meeting. "We may not always make the decision you want or like, but stay involved. There will be coaches and teachers next year, I assure you."
Several teachers who have resigned during the past year including, former English instructor and basketball coach, Chris Dawson have told Nashville's News 2 there's a "rule of fear" by administrators with threats of termination and re-assignment if someone speaks up about school issues.
Dawson said one example in his case involved speaking up about three-month late textbooks, and it resulted in extra observations and lack of support for a championship basketball team that came within one game of the state tournament.