Ex-tech school boss sues schools

Jared Felkins • Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 12:57 PM

Former Wilson County schools career and technical education supervisor Bill Moss claims he was wrongfully let go by Director of Schools Tim Setterlund and the Wilson County Board of Education, and he’s backing up those claims with a lawsuit.

Lebanon attorney Michael Clemons filed the suit Tuesday in Wilson County Chancery Court and requests a jury trial. In the suit, Moss claims Setterlund and the board broke state law in eliminating Moss’ position and asks for back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees, according to a copy of the suit The Democrat received Wednesday.

“I talked to my lawyer, who is Michael Clemons with Clemons and Clemons in Nashville. He’s going to answer all of the legal questions,” Moss said Wednesday evening. “I feel like I’ve been done wrong, and that’s the reason I went this route. I didn’t like the way this was handled and felt like this was my only recourse.”

Tim Setterlund said he eliminated the supervisor of career and technical education position Sept. 13, which Moss without a job. At the time he said supervisors of instruction Monty Wilson and Jennifer Cothron would assume Moss’ duties.

“There’s a myriad of reasons,” Setterlund said at the time. “One is money. That was an expensive position for us. Another is that it creates a lean central office with expectations for high achievement.”

Setterlund didn’t immediately return calls from The Democrat requesting comment Wednesday evening.

Wilson County schools attorney Mike Jennings said Wednesday he hadn’t received the lawsuit and couldn’t comment on it.

Moss received a nearly $100,000 annual salary in his position. He’s worked for Wilson County schools for the past 31 years.

“I was told that my position had been abolished,” Moss said at the time. “When I asked why, [Setterlund] said my vision for CTE and his vision for CTE were not the same. I asked him if he didn’t think we could work together, and he said he couldn’t work with me.”

In the suit, Moss claims he was “denied his right to a preference for re-employment accorded to tenured personnel,” according to state law. He said in the suit he was never placed on a preferred list for re-employment.

Moss also said in the suit Setterlund and the board violated state law by not considering him or evaluating him for any vacancies. He also claims in the suit his fitness was not evaluated as required by state law.

The suit also claims the board failed to “state on the record why it abolished” Moss’s position “if, in fact, it voted to do so.”

Moss claims in the suit Setterlund failed to give Moss or the board notice prior to eliminating Moss’ position, which Moss claims is in violation of state law.

Moss said in the suit his losing his job was not due to the elimination of his position, and he was denied a hearing before the board.

“It’s part of a restructuring and pointing in the right direction for the future,” Setterlund said at the time. “If we’re doing away with the position, that’s pretty permanent. This, in no way, signals a decrease of our support for career technical education.”

Moss said he became vocational director in February 1988 and additionally took on the responsibilities of principal of the Career Technical Center in 1996.

“Over the years, I have worked with some tremendous teachers and wonderful administrators,” Moss said at the time. “They care about the students in all aspects of their lives and want to see them grow. We have seen some tremendous success getting them graduated and on to postsecondary education or work.

“As for what happened to me, it was a tremendous shock. I had no idea this was coming. I had no clue that any of this was transpiring.”

Moss said he became supervisor of career and technical education in May 2012.

Moss is tenured with Wilson County schools, but eliminating his position falls within the state tenure laws. Moss is certified to teach seventh- through 12th-grade vocational agriculture.

“After 31 years, I have seen a lot and done a lot,” Moss said at the time. “I can retire, so I could retire. That’s not really what I want to do, because I think I still have some things to offer. To say I’m still in shock would be an understatement.

“I’m not moving out of Wilson County. I moved here in 1976, and I plan to remain here.”

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