The Wilson County Schools board is down to five candidates to replace Director Donna Wright, who is retiring June 30.

The board on Monday chose six candidates to interview out of 12 original applicants. One of those selected, Jerry Boyd, formally withdrew his candidacy Tuesday in a email to Rebecca Owens, WCS deputy director of employee relations. Boyd was selected Monday night by the Washington County Schools board as its new director.

The five remaining candidates are:

• John E. Ash is principal at Central Magnet School in Murfreesboro. He has a doctorate in education from Tennessee State University and began his career as a teacher and coach at Smith County High School in 1988.

• Jeffrey Luttrell is a WCS HR supervisor. He has a doctorate from Tennessee Tech and began his career as a teacher at Trousdale County High School in 1994. He was principal of Watertown High School from 2007-2019.

• Travis Mayfield is principal at Wilson Central High School. He has a master’s degree from Northeastern State University and began his career as a teacher in Oklahoma in 1992. Before taking over at Wilson Central, he was an assistant principal at Independence High School in Williamson County. And before that, he was principal at Wilson Central from 2006 to 2010.

• Robert Sells is supervisor of attendance at Overton County Schools, where he began his career as a science teacher in 2002. He has a master’s degree from Tennessee Technological University.

• Aimee Wyatt is director of state and district partnerships with the Southern Region Education Board, a nonprofit organization in Atlanta that works to improve education. She has a doctorate from Lipscomb University and began her career as a teacher in Louisiana in 1993. She spent 21 years in Metro Nashville Public Schools as a teacher and administrator.

After a lengthy discussion, the board decided to interview the five candidates on March 25. The board is then expected to narrow the field down to two.

In other business, the board held a closed session with board attorney Mike Jennings to discuss the negotiations with Travelers, the company that insured the two schools heavily damaged by the March 3, 2020 tornado. No action was taken after the session, but Jennings said negotiations will continue through the National Fire Adjustment Co. under “the parameters discussed in executive session.”

Stoner Creek Elementary School and West Wilson Middle School were rendered unusable in the wake of the tornado.

The board voted to name the Mt. Juliet High School tennis courts in honor of Mike Hurley, a 21-year volunteer with the school’s tennis team.

“Mike Hurley pours his heart and soul into each individual player on the tennis tea, no matter the player’s skill level,” Mt. Juliet High Principal Beverly Sharpe wrote in her letter requesting the action. “He has led the team to many victories, but what’s more important is how the player remember him. As players leave Mt. Juliet, they forever remember the impact Mike Hurley has had on their lives.”

At the beginning of the meeting, under statements from citizens, two letters critical of Wright were read. Zone 7 board member Jamie Farough read a letter from a parent who was upset about the lack of bus transportation for his child, and board secretary Sherrie Hyder read a letter from a parent upset about the cheerleading program at Green Hill High School. In both letters, the parents expressed frustration at the lack of response from Wright despite what they said were repeated efforts to contact her.

Wright issued lengthy defenses of her actions and the administration’s response to the two issues, essentially saying they were handled correctly. Farough did ask Wright to make sure her staff makes it clear that they are acting under Wright’s authority when addressing problems raised by parents.

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