Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fran Bush, "Our district is falling apart and we are doing nothing."

Fran Bush
by Rod Williams, Feb. 28, 2019 - Another day; another contentious day at Metro Schools.

Recently the School Board commissioned an outside audit of the human resources department. The audit was conducted by Bone McAllester Norton PLLC and is described by The Tennessean as "scathing." The audit found plenty wrong.

The audit found there were a lack of communication regarding standards, procedures and expectations and this had led to low morale among employees. It found that there were problems with hiring of teachers and that the hiring process was complicated and that well-qualified teacher applicants did not take jobs with the district due to HR delays. It found there was a problem with the way HR conducted investigations and that there was "virtually no consistency in the way investigations are completed by individual investigators." Some of the investigators had no training in how to conduct investigations.

The audit also found there was a problem with how the board reports to the Tennessee State Board of Education when a teacher is placed on leave, suspended or recommended for charges of dismissal. The HR office fails to notify the State in a timely manner.

The report was not intended to be released to the public.  The School Board used the flimsy argument that since it was prepared by an attorney, it was protected by attorney-client privilege. Luckily someone, probably one of Joseph's School Board member critics, released the report to the press.  Following the release of the audit, or perhaps even before, Board members Amy Frogge, Jill Speering and Fran Bush had called for the firing of Director of Schools, Shawn Joseph.  School Board chair Sharon Gentry is a staunch defender of Joseph and said of whoever leaked the report that they had "weaponize it to malign the reputation of the leader of this district during budget season."

Last Tuesday the Board met in a "working session" to address the issues raised in the audit. Human Resources Director Deborah Story made a presentation to the Board addressing the findings of the audit. According to The Tennessean, the meeting became very contentious. Fran Bush was very critical about the actions of the Human Resources department and said, "Our district is falling apart and we are doing nothing."  She said Story was covering up Joseph's wrongdoing and trying to cover for him. School Board member  Gini Pupo-Walker insulted Bush by apologizing to Story for Bush's comments.

Things are a total mess at the School Board and our schools are failing.  There are probably lots of changes that need to be made, but the most important thing that could happen is that the School Board needs new leadership. It need not to not renew Josephs contract and needs to begin the search for a new director.

In the meantime, I looked at the petition on calling for the ouster of  Fran Bush and it seems to have fizzled out. As of today, it has only 258 signers, only having gained eight in the last week.  Good! We need people like Fran Bush on the school board who will boldly call out Joseph's incompetence and mismanagement of metro schools.

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