Discipline recomended for Loudon County Schools director

LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Loudon County School Board Chairman Craig Simon told WVLT on Tuesday morning that the investigation of Jason Vance has been concluded.

The report from the investigation gives a recommendation that Vance should "receive discipline and corrective instruction."

Chairman Simon said that the board took all the attorney's recommendations and Director Vance is still employed with Loudon Co. and is at work.

The report goes on to give a recommendation that Vance should attend and complete training regarding employee harassment.

"If Dr. Vance complies with the Plan of Corrective Action, the Board is empowered and it would be our recommendation to consider removing his written reprimand from the personnel file in two years," the report said.

WVLT reached out to Director Vance's attorney J. Chadwick Hatmaker, who was unavailable.

In early March, the Loudon County Board of Education announced it would expand the scope of its investigation into Director of Schools Jason Vance to determine if punishment or termination was appropriate.

Because he is a tenured employee, the board of education's lawyer, Chris McCarty, said the board had to find one or more of the factors to determine action against Vance: inefficiency, incompetence, neglect of duty, insubordination and unprofessional conduct.

On March 5, the Loudon County Board of Education held a special meeting to discuss Vance's contract. At the end of the meeting, the school board did not come to a decision, but said it would continue to investigate concerns raised in a January meeting where members of the public voiced concerns about the Loudon High School boys basketball coach. According to the board meeting's minutes, 10 people came forward on the issue.

At the time, Vance addressed the concerns saying: "I want to address the situation about Loudon High School concerning the basketball coaching staff. There are several rumors that I have told the coach which kids to play or which kids to dress out for games. I have also heard rumors that I have bullied the coach."

Vance continued, "It has been about 30 days since the last time I spoke to Coach Graves directly and at that meeting we shook hands and agreed that we would move forward supporting our kids as a team. So, I will say those rumors are completely inaccurate and unfounded."

"I will not apologize for advocating for requesting clearer communication between our coach and families. I will not apologize for advocating for my family," he said.

During that January meeting, board member Scott Newman requested that someone other than Vance address further issues regarding the high school basketball team until the matter concerning the basketball coach could be resolved.

According to the minutes of that meeting, Newman also stated he would like the board to have a closed meeting with the school board attorney to speak about the matter.

The agenda for the special meeting, held Mar. 5, 2019, was to discuss Vance's contract. The school board confirmed that it was about the rumors connected to the basketball team as well as other incidents, which the board says may be considered an abuse of power such as an incident involving body camera footage from a school resource officer.

The footage shows an altercation between Vance and the officer. In it, Vance is talking to the officer about an incident involving Vance's son. The officer had allegedly pulled Vance's son out of class.

"I don't think it's appropriate for you to grab my kid and you not call me or his momma and say, 'hey, this is what we're doing.' I can't believe that you would do it either, but I think Mrs. Parrish didn't know about it until this morning," Vance can be heard saying.

"I'm not threatening," Vance said later in the video. "I'm not obviously in a position to make those threats."

The Loudon County Sheriff's Office released a statement about that particular incident.

"The LCSO Deputy who is assigned to Loudon High School activated his body camera during a meeting that was held regarding a complaint that was brought to his attention. The complaint involved an incident that occurred during school hours and on school property. It is policy that conversations regarding a Deputies official business be recorded on their body cams and our deputy followed proper procedures. There is no pending criminal investigations associated with the video therefore we have released the body cam recording as requested through the open records act."

WVLT News reached out to Vance for comment, and his attorney, J. Chadwick Hatmaker, released a statement addressing the concerns surrounding Vance.

"As the recordings of the meeting confirm, Dr. Vance did not threaten the School Resource Officer, an armed employee of the Loudon County Sheriff's Department, in any way."

Hatmaker added that Vance did not violate his contract or School Board policy by meeting with the officer.

The school board said it wouldn't be able to meet for at least seven days, but it planned to have a decision within the coming weeks.

McCarty said, in theory, it's possible that Vance could be terminated and still be an employee of the school board.