NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro Nashville students go back to school August 5 and when they do, a new Director of Schools will be at the helm.
In April, the school board bought out Dr. Shawn Joseph’s contract following a tumultuous three years. Dr. Joseph was criticized for how he handled sexual harassment allegations and low teacher morale.
But Dr. Joseph was lauded for his focus on equity and cutting back on suspensions for black students.
Dr. Adrienne Battle said she wants to continue the fight for equity.
“We’ve got to be thinking about equity for all students,” Dr. Battle told News 2. “We’ve got to ensure that strategically, we’re looking at what resources are necessary to move all of our students in all of our schools forward every single day.”
Dr. Battle is a product of Metro schools. She is a graduate of Overton High School and spent nearly her entire career in Metro, working her way up from teacher to administer to Interim Director of Schools.
“That kind of historical, organizational knowledge I hope will bring a benefit to our district as we continue to strive to excel at everything that we do,” she said.
The number of schools that perform in the bottom 5% of the state, known as Priority Schools, have increased within MNPS.
Teacher pay hasn’t kept up with Nashville’s cost of living and there has been in-fighting on the school board.
Battle hopes she can serve as a clean slate. She wants to focus on recruiting and retraining teachers, which she says includes a discussion around compensation.
Dr. Battle said she also wants to get back to the focus being on students.
“I think we’re in a great opportunity right now to reset,” said Dr. Battle. “My position in this role is to create the conditions that keep our students at the core in all of our discussions, keeping our communications efficient, tight, transparent to ensure that we’re strategically thinking about the decisions we have to make in order to impact our students across the district,” she said.
Will Pinkston, who resigned from the school board in April, Tweeted that Dr. Battle was in talks with the Tennessee Department of Education to discuss a partial takeover of Metro Schools.
Dr. Battle and a DOE spokesperson denied those claims.