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Monroe County School Board votes for director buyout

The Monroe County School Board voted Monday night to buy out the contract of former Director Dr. DeAnna McClendon.
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 7:02 PM EST
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MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Monroe County School Board voted Monday night to buy out the contract of former Director Dr. DeAnna McClendon.

The board voted 6-2 for a buyout.

The terms of the buyout, according to board counsel, are:

  • board will pay $9,166, minus taxes and other paycheck deductions, to McClendon for 28 months along with a one-time $5,000 for extra expenses
  • no lawsuits or claims will be filed
  • McClendon will not be employed with the school system again

Also under the agreement, is the acceptance by both parties for an “amicable” parting of ways. The board added that the buyout is “just a resolution and a compromise” not an admission of wrongdoing.

Board counsel added that “there’s nothing in the record that she has ever been disciplined by the board ... there’s nothing in her file to indicate that.” He added that he was recommending the buyout because the director and school board appeared to be going in different directions.

Two board members, Dewitt Upton (District 1) and Marsha Standridge (District 2) spoke up against the buyout.

McClendon “did everything we asked her, to my knowledge,” Upton told the board. He also addressed McClendon and said, “I’m very proud of you, Dr. McClendon.”

Standridge called the buyout “frivolous” and said she received a petition with more than 1,000 signatures of people supporting McClendon. “I’ve not gotten an email, a letter, a text, nothing” about any wrongdoing on the former director’s part.

“I feel like she came here, she grew up here, she led the school,” Standridge said. “I feel like she’s a gold [medal]. I hate to lose her ... I’ve had too many people call me and say, ‘what’re you all doing?’.”

Despite voting 6-2, no board member spoke up in support of the buyout or gave any reason as to why they would vote for it. The buyout is effective immediately.

Before the board meeting, members with the Alcoa-Blount County NAACP held a protest in support of McClendon.

“We are basically here tonight in support of Dr. DeAnna McClendon. We are here to urge and encourage the Monroe County Board of Education to reconsider its’ efforts to forcefully buy-out the contract of its’ first African- American Superintendent,” said Dr. Willa Estelle. She added that they were there because they didn’t believe McClendon had been treated fairly.

McClendon spoke at the protest and said, “Tonight I am just full and overwhelmed to see the support that is here tonight because they care about the children. No matter what happens on the inside tonight either way, I know that these people care about the children and support the work that needs to be done to make Monroe County Schools one of the best in the state and in the nation.”

The board then voted to place Dr. Kristi Windsor as the interim director.

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