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Schools’ boss fires safety director, district completes restructuring

By Kimberly Jordan kjordan@lebanondemocrat.com • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:11 PM

Wilson County Director of Schools Tim Setterlund continued to shuffle personnel and positions last week in firing Director of Safety David Burton last week. 

Burton said he was given the notice of his termination Wednesday at 10 a.m.

“I was terminated by the director, being accused of violating several school board policies,” Burton said Friday.

Setterlund confirmed Burton’s dismissal Friday and said a decision wasn’t made on whether a replacement would be hired.

“We’re going to wait and see,” Setterlund said. “With the reorganization of the Central Office, we are evaluating where to best use our resources.”

Burton worked for Wilson County schools since January 2000. In his most recent evaluation in December, Burton said it was “outstanding. There were no derogatory remarks.”

“I’ve worked at the board of education for 14 years, and I’ve never had so much as a verbal reprimand,” Burton said.

Before coming to the Central Office, Burton was an officer with the Lebanon Police Department.

“For 24 years, I’ve served the community honorably and with integrity,” he said. “I love what I do.”

Burton said he is “exploring all his options” following the news of his termination.

“This is the first time in many, many years that I’ve found myself unemployed. I’m taking it a day at a time,” he said. 

Burton’s firing continues a complete rearranging of positions and personnel at the Central Office. On Monday, Setterlund released an organizational chart and duties for both new and former positions. 

“With almost 17,000 students Wilson County Schools is no longer a small school district and central office departmentalization is necessary to ensure that goals are set and achieved to answer accountability demands for both state and federal regulations, as well as to better respond to the needs of school administrators as they strive to ensure learning for all students,” Setterlund said Monday. 

At the top was the Wilson County Board of Education with it overseeing Setterlund and attorney Mike Jennings. Jennings’ responsibilities included contracts, labor relations, legislative/policy, litigation and compliance. 

Setterlund listed his responsibilities as community relations, internal and external communications, public relations and board relations. 

Under Setterlund, duties were split into five categories, three with oversight from newly hired or promoted deputy directors of schools. 

“By departmentalizing the work of the central office, the staff will operate more efficiently and in harmony as teams rather than as a disconnected group of individuals,” Setterlund said. “Coordination between departments for services and programs will better ensure that there are no gaps in support, and that efforts are not being duplicated by multiple employees.”

Overseeing academics will be newly hired Deputy Director of Schools Leisa Justus. Setterlund said she will oversee curriculum, federal programs, exceptional children, SEEK, ELL, STEM, CTE, instructional IT, testing and accountability, research, direct accreditation, charter schools, pre-kindergarten, the Adult Learning Center and 504. 

Student services is headed by newly hired Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hutson. He’s responsible for discipline, truancy, athletics, attendance, enrollment and student transfers, parent engagement, coordinated school health, nursing, security, school counseling, student records, emergency management, YouthLinks and OCR. 

Recently promoted Deputy Director of Schools Mary Ann Sparks will head up talent management. She will be responsible for recruitment, staffing, performance evaluation, human resources functions, employee relations, teacher and leadership development and EEOC. 

Mickey Hall, the lone deputy before Setterlund created the other three deputy positions, will be in charge of finance and business operations. This includes budget, accounting, fiscal planning, risk management, payroll, fixed assets, grant budget compliance, procurement, nutrition services, custodial, maintenance, transportation, information technology, benefits, extended care and OSHA. 

The fifth area under Setterlund is principals, who control the schools, including MAP Academy, the Virtual School and Adult High School. 

This reorganization will not cost any additional dollars, and the goal is to seek savings in personnel management of employee time and accountability,” Setterlund said. “These changes are necessary to move Wilson County Schools from being a good district to becoming a great district. The goal is to be the very best district at meeting the needs of students and improving their learning both today and in future opportunities. Wilson County Schools has demonstrated good success in the past.  Yet, challenges in closing the achievement gap between groups of students remain.”

Setterlund said Wilson County Schools failed to meet the gap closure goals in a majority of areas during the 2012-13 school year. Not a single school met its gap closure goals, and only four met all achievement goals. 

“In order to honestly state that the schools are meeting the needs of every child, significant improvements in these results must be achieved,” Setterlund said.

“While the school board governs the district, neither they nor the county commission are accountable for organization of personnel. The organization of the personnel of the school district lies directly on the shoulders of the director of schools. It is the director’s responsibility to ensure that the resources of the district are best aligned to guarantee that all students are learning at high levels. When everything works well, every employee, every parent and every member of the community share in that accomplishment and all benefit from the value that an excellent school system brings to the community.

“As the director, I want the best for each child every day. I realize that change is difficult especially when it involves that changing of personnel.  But it is with a sense of urgency to provide the very best for every child that I make these difficult decisions. It is illogical that I would make changes that would reduce learning or detract from the goal of having a highly effective teacher in every classroom. I am confident that the positive results of changes speaks for themselves and everyone can share the success.”

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