Trousdale County’s School Board upheld the dismissal of high school teacher Brooke Jenkins by a 4-1 vote during the Dec. 16 meeting.
Anthony Crook cast the love vote against sustaining the dismissal. Under Tennessee law, Jenkins has 30 days to appeal the board’s ruling to chancery court.
Jenkins’ appeal came after an impartial hearing officer upheld the dismissal, which was originally certified by the board in August. Jenkins, who did not have tenure, was charged with insubordination and dereliction of duty in an Aug. 10 letter from Director of Schools Clint Satterfield recommending her termination.
The charges came both after Jenkins informed school officials of her plans to resign as volleyball coach and after she was suspended for breaking the district’s COVID quarantine policy in July.
“She defied COVID quarantine instructions that she could either complete the entire period of her scheduled quarantine or she could return to work on day 20 by wearing a full-time mask through day 24,” the letter stated in part. “Ms. Jenkins indeed elected to return to work early, but she refused to wear the face covering as instructed.”
Jenkins addressed the board giving what she called her side, saying that her contract stated nothing about coaching volleyball. She also gave examples of previous teachers who resigned coaching positions but retained their teaching positions.
“I don’t know how’s I’m obligated to coach and teach without losing my job. I’ve never had a writeup… until I sent the email saying I was resigning from coaching,” she said.
Satterfield countered that when Jenkins was hired, it was with the explicit understanding that she would coach and teach and that she could not do one without the other. He also noted that Jenkins was only certified to coach physical education.
“The record is clear that she knew her coaching and teaching positions were one and the same,” Satterfield said. “She’s done a good job for us, but the only endorsement she has on her teaching license is PE.”
Satterfield said the district had moved her into science, art and library positions but that she had failed to obtain endorsements in any of those areas.
Satterfield also updated the board on damage to the elementary school roof caused by the storms earlier this month. The board earlier this year allocated funds to renovate the roof over a two-year period, but Satterfield said he believed insurance would cover a significant portion of that amount because of damage in some areas.
“They described it as walking on a trampoline… we think the insurance is going to pretty much replace that roof and we won’t have to spend that kind of money. It didn’t rip the roof off but it’s separated from the decking.”
A school bus that drew national attention after being overturned by strong winds earlier this month is a total loss and replacement could be around $98,000, Satterfield estimated. Insurance recovery will only cover about half that amount, he added.
Chairman Johnny Kerr said he had already had discussions with the chairman of the County Commission about getting help paying for a new bus.
The district is also creating a drive-thru COVID testing site for school system employees to be located at the high school beginning on Jan. 5. Satterfield said it would be open on Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. and be optional.
“All our employees can use it… if that (mandate) ever comes to being then our (unvaccinated) employees could do free testing,” he said.
Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or firstname.lastname@example.org.