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Metro School Board sets vote on terminating Dr. Shawn Joseph

Posted: 10:42 AM, Mar 25, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-25 20:39:33-04
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Metro School Board member has given notice that she plans to bring a motion to terminate the contract of embattled Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph.

In response, Joseph says he'll be looking for a "mutually agreeable way" to part with the board, hinting at potential discussion of a buyout of his $285,000-a-year contract. He has more than a year left on that contract.

School board member Anna Shepherd set the stage for a vote on April 9th in an email sent Monday morning to chair Sharon Gentry.

"In keeping with the requirement to give adequate notice, please consider this communication as my notice to bring to the April 9th meeting a vote on the board floor by me and our colleagues to terminate Dr. Joseph's contract," Shepherd wrote in her email.

That came following an expected move during a school board retreat Friday where the board went into executive session to get advice from a Metro lawyer. Joseph attempted to enter the room, but was told the discussion was about him and he could not participate.

“After the last board retreat, I realized that my value system no longer aligns with that of some on this board," Joseph said in a statement.

"While I have no plans to resign, I will not seek a contract renewal when it expires in June 2020. It is my hope that the board and I will invoke the terms of my contract that allow us to part in a mutually agreeable way and to provide for a proper and effective transition of leadership.”

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Shepherd, a former chair of the school board, had been an outspoken defender of Joseph when he was first hired in July 2016.

Even through repeated questions about Joseph's handling of a sexual harassment scandal inside the district and questions about how he spent Metro Schools' money, Shepherd had withheld any public criticisms of the schools director.

That changed dramatically with the release of a recent report from a Nashville law firm that reviewed the district human resources practices. The report warned that Metro Schools faces a morale crisis that threatens its ability to attract and keep good employees.

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"This is a very difficult decision to make as I had high hopes when we hired Dr. Joseph," Shepherd said in a statement.

"The results of both the financial and HR audit are very disappointing but even more disappointing is the lack of any action around any of the recommendations."

Three school board members - Fran Bush, Amy Frogge and Jill Speering - have already stated they believe it is time for Joseph to go.

School board members Gini Pupo-Walker and Rachael Anne Elrod released a joint statement in which they said the April 9th meeting should focus on "revisiting the terms of his contract and finding another path forward that is mutually agreed upon by all parties."

"The job of our board is to rebuild confidence in our capacity to lead, and we commit to working closely with one another, the Mayor and Metro council as we move forward with critical conversations on the budget and priorities for the year ahead," Pupo-Walker and Elrod said.

Mayor David Briley spoke with the school board chair Monday morning, according to his spokesperson.

"He is deeply concerned that the students and teachers are suffering as a result of the discord at the Board and District levels," Thomas Mulgrew said.

"Mayor Briley will work with Dr. Gentry to create a plan that moves the District forward and establishes the stability that our children and teachers deserve."

Stay with NewsChannel 5 for continuing developments.

NC5 Investigates: Metro Schools