5-3 vote ensures buyout
At a special called meeting last Friday, the Grundy County School Board voted to buyout the remainder of the contract for Jessie Kinsey, Director of Schools.
The board called an unusual Friday evening meeting to discuss Kinsey’s contract, and considered three options offered by the Board’s lawyer Chuck Cagle.
The three options were:
1. Transfer Kinsey to another position.
2. Leave Kinsey in current position as Director of Schools
3. Buyout Kinsey’s contract.
Back and forth
With the value of Kinsey’s contract running through December 2019 set at $190,000, determining a buyout was not easy. The board did not want to pay the full amount of the buyout, and Cagle was in contact with Kinsey’s lawyer throughout the day on Friday, hashing out a deal that would be suitable to all parties.
At the meeting, Cagle said the current buy out agreed upon by the board and Kinsey was $105,000.
Board chairwoman Phyllis Lusk opened the meeting up for the board to discuss the buyout options before voting on the matter. Board member Janie Layne, who opposed the buyout and wanted Kinsey to remain as DOS, stated, “She is doing her job, our grades are up, and absentees are down. Everything is fine.”
Layne said the money used to buy out Kinsey’s contract could be better used to serve students.
“I think it’s a shame that we just throw taxpayer’s money away like it means nothing,” concluded Layne.
However, Cagle’s comments made it clear that Kinsey was interested in the buyout and had requested he begin investigating the process in March. She was tired of being “harassed” stated Cagle.
Before the board voted, member Paul Gallagher read a prepared statement in which he mentioned Kinsey’s successes and offered what could have been construed as a threat to other board members of their vote tonight “because another election is coming up in August.” He encouraged people to remember who voted to accept the buyout and implied this was the primary agenda of some board members.
The board held a roll call vote to determine if there would be a buyout, resulting in three no votes (Janie Layne, Paul Gallagher, and Gary Don Melton); and five yes votes (Phyllis Lusk, Lebron Coffelt, Chris Grooms, Rueben Newsome, and Chris Snyder). The result of the vote was that Kinsey would be paid $105,000 of her remaining contract in a buyout.
Kinsey’s lawyer, Eric Burnette, issued a statement Monday from Kinsey and himself. The statement says:
“Mrs. Kinsey has served as Director of Schools for Grundy County since 2015. Under her leadership the school district has: increased graduation rate to over 97 percent, improved attendance rates from 93 percent to over 97 percent, decreased chronic absenteeism within the District from over 15 percent to 11.56 percent, and increased ACT scores.
“Mrs. Kinsey has implemented numerous successful programs including: 1:1 Chromebooks, STEAM/STEM initiatives through grant funding, new teacher orientation and mentor programs. “In addition Grundy County was named the 2017 Exemplary District by the Tennessee Department of Education. Mrs. Kinsey would like to express her gratitude to her incredible team for working diligently to improve the educational experience for the students of Grundy County. It has been her pleasure to serve the students, families and parents of Grundy County.
“As a result of the well-publicized ongoing tension between the Director’s office and the School Board, Mrs. Kinsey agreed to accept a contract buyout and settlement.
While her position over the past 3 years did not come without certain challenges, Ms. Kinsey has enjoyed leading the Grundy County School system and she wishes the next director continued success.”
Next on the agenda
Chairwoman Lusk stated that a special called meeting will be held to determine an interim Director of Schools.