Moss’ file shows model employee

Jared Felkins • Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 7:27 PM

A review of former Wilson County schools career and technical education supervisor Bill Moss’ personnel file revealed what appears to be a model employee who earned regular training and certification with a nearly unblemished record of employment.

The Democrat received Moss’ personnel file through state open records request Thursday following Director of Schools Tim Setterlund eliminating his position last month and Moss filing a wrongful termination lawsuit Tuesday in Wilson County Chancery Court.

The last document placed in Moss’ personnel file was a letter from Wilson County schools human resources supervisor Mary Ann Sparks notifying him his notice of retirement was accepted and approved Sept. 16. It also included a letter from Setterlund notifying him his CTE supervisor position was “abolished” as of Sept. 13.

Moss received several certificates of achievements from TEAM administrators and complimentary evaluations from past supervisors over the years. The file also showed his letter of transfer from then-Director of Schools Mike Davis from principal at the Career and Technical Center to supervisor of vocational education in May 2012.

The only blemish found came in a counseling report in which Moss was given a written reprimand and placed on strict probation for one year for “conduct unbecoming a member of the teaching profession and using school system email for inappropriate personal communication” in May 2011. Details from the incident were not included in the file.

Lebanon attorney Michael Clemons filed the wrongful termination 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 Clemmons & 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.”

Setterlund said he eliminated the supervisor of career and technical education position Sept. 13, which left 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.”

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

“I am referring all questions to my attorney, Mike Jennings,” Setterlund said Thursday.

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 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 was 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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