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MNPS Failed To Report More Educator Misconduct

MNPS Failed To Report More Educator Misconduct
Posted at 5:51 PM, Aug 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-31 19:15:08-04

Nashville's director of schools may soon have a lot more explaining to do about how his administration has handled misconduct allegations.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates first revealed how the State Board of Education wants to know why a coach's altercation with a student was never reported to them.

Now, it turns out, there may have been a lot more Metro Schools employees whose troubles were never reported to the state.

A Metro Schools spokesperson blamed a former human resources employee.

"Upon review, it does appear that a handful of cases which should have been reported to the State were not properly reported," spokesperson Dawn Rutledge said in a statement.

She added, that's "part of the reason that the employee is no longer with the district."

The State Board of Education requires school directors, like Dr. Shawn Joseph, to report any time an educator is suspended, terminated or allowed to resign as a result of allegations of misconduct.

But Metro Schools repeatedly kept that information to themselves.

Video -- first obtained by NewsChannel 5 Investigates -- shows former Overton High School coach Arnett Bodenhamer in a physical altercation with a student.

For the student's mother, the outcome should have been clear.

"I don't want him working with anybody's kids," said Angel Matthews.

But Joseph overruled the principal's recommendation to fire Bodenhamer, instead giving him a five-day suspension.

Even then, the State Board of Education says Joseph's office failed to report the suspension to them.

And after our investigation revealed horrific sexual harassment allegations against the executive principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School, Dr. Sam Braden was suspended, then allowed to retire.

The district's own files include allegations of misuse of school funds.

But Braden wasn't reported to the state.

We also uncovered the case of Hunters Lane High School teacher Daniel Schoenenberger.

District files show the principal found evidence of him inappropriately contacting a student over social media, then lying about it.

She recommended that Schoenenberger be fired, but Joseph changed that to a three-day suspension.

His contract wasn't renewed, but the state was never told.

Among the others also not reported:

  • An Antioch High School teacher who was suspended after being accused and later arrested after he "allegedly touched a student's buttocks."
  • Another Antioch teacher who resigned after he allegedly "placed [a] student in a choke hold."
  • And a Maplewood High School teacher whose contract was not renewed as a result of an "alleged inappropriate relationship with a male student."

On Friday, The Tennessean also reported it had reviewed 21 misconduct cases, 20 of which had not been reported as required by law.

While Joseph initially tried to sidestep the questions we uncovered, this week the Metro School Board approved a $100,000 contract with a law firm to review the district's HR practices -- a step that Joseph himself said reflected the community's concern.

"We're looking at what we've done to make sure it was done correctly and if something wasn't done correctly, make sure we put practices in place to fix it," Joseph told the board.

Even though Dr. Joseph certainly would not have been the one to personally report those cases, the State Board of Education puts responsibility directly on the director of schools to make sure the law is followed.

That's why, according to a spokesperson for the Board, Joseph himself could end up facing a public reprimand.

The Metro Schools spokesperson said the district is working to get the reporting problems fixed as soon as possible.