Tennessee Rep. says education commissioner should be replaced, calls COVID-19 response 'flawed'

Posted at 1:36 PM, Sep 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-22 14:51:56-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Rep. Bruce Griffey (R-Paris) says he's urging fellow lawmakers to issue a vote of no confidence against Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

The Tennessee House Education Committee is meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday for its summer study.

Ahead of the meeting, Griffey released a lengthy statement, saying Schwinn should be replaced "immediately" and called her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic “flawed.”

“[Schwinn] has completely lacked any leadership on this front in my opinion. She drug her feet in sending out a reopening plan for Tennessee schools. She has pressured schools into reopening while keeping the doors to the TN Department of Education closed and allowing employees to work from home. The ‘do as I say, not as I do’ model simply does not work. It is my understanding that she has failed to timely provide PPE and cleaning supplies to schools. The nail in the coffin was her ill-conceived monthly child well-being inspections that sparked a controversy wave across TN due to not only unreasonably expanding teacher workload, but also due to unreasonably expanding government into an overly intrusive, big brother model,” Griffey said in part.

Griffey says if no action is taken this week, he plans on filing a resolution to be considered at the start of the next legislative session.

Reporter Kyle Horan is monitoring the meeting and will have more updates throughout the day.