MOA is DOA: School board nixes facilitator

Sandra ClarkOpinion

So, it’s really not about the money.

Daniel Watson’s idea to hire a facilitator to organize community meetings for input before the school board signs off on a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with KPD and the Sheriff’s Office died Wednesday on a 3-3-2 vote with Watson on a pre-scheduled anniversary cruise. He announced at last week’s workshop that he would not be present on June 9.

  • Voting yes: Evetty Satterfield, Jennifer Owen, Virginia Babb
  • Voting no: Susan Horn, Betsy Henderson, Mike McMillan
  • Passing: Patti Bounds, Kristi Kristy

Watson’s effort followed the April 12 killing of Anthony Thompson Jr. at Austin-East High School. Thompson, who had a handgun, was confronted by four officers inside a school restroom. An officer was wounded by a fellow officer, the body-camera tapes showed, and DA Charme Allen opted not to bring charges.

There was consensus on the school board to hire a facilitator until Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs jumped in with a letter. He said he “strongly oppose(d) using taxpayer dollars” to tell the district “what every parent already knows: armed law enforcement officers are a necessity in schools.” Full letter: Jacobs letter to BOE

Satterfield, who represents the district that includes A-E, announced before Wednesday’s vote that she had secured outside funding for a facilitator. The offer did not sway one vote, but it did establish that the opposition was never about the money.

Superintendent Bob Thomas has hired an as-yet-unnamed head of school security to replace Chief Gus Paidousis, who has retired. Let’s get this person into town, get some fresh ideas and start again to hammer out a Memorandum of Agreement.

Meanwhile, I’m pondering why it is that people who support guns (even permit-less open carry and assault weapons) then want armed officers in schools to prevent gun violence; why the people who won’t wear a mask to prevent covid also won’t get a vaccination; and why Glenn Jacobs is scared of facilitated community meetings while claiming to know “what every parent already knows.”

Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today.


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