NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- Some parents, teachers and board members are questioning the leadership of Metro schools director Dr. Shawn Joseph.
The controversy has been building for months, but has recently taken on racial tones. Madison and Gallatin area Board member Jill Speering is one of Joseph’s most outspoken critics. Speering is white. Dr. Joseph is black.
Last week Speering urged parents and teachers with complaints about the director to attend the next meeting. She reportedly suggested anyone fearing retaliation for speaking out should wear a mask to remain anonymous. Board member Christiane Buggs found that idea offensive.
“I’m not sure if Mrs. Speering internally made the connection between the masked protest she encouraged today and those of yesteryear held by the Ku Klux Klan, but I did.”
Jill Speering was not present for this week's Board meeting.
A parent who gave only her first name, Kelly, testified before the board saying she was representing teachers too afraid to speak up. She claimed Dr. Joseph’s leadership style is dividing the community.
“He is succeeding thus far in dividing you, and everyone in this district. This room is proof of that alone (crowd protest).”
In his Director’s report, Dr. Joseph responded with a long list of collaborative efforts he’s undertaken, including with teacher’s unions.
“In a spirit of collaboration developed memorandums of understanding with all of our unions, and we’ve begun the hard work of implementing them to help our employees feel valued.”
The school board will begin a formal review of Dr. Joseph’s work later this month, but that assessment won’t be complete until early summer.