BLOUNTVILLE — Any chance Andy Hare gets a sixth year as the Patriots’ principal at Sullivan East High School would hinge on further “conversations,” Sullivan County Schools Principal Evelyn Rafalowski said.
“I will continue to have conversations. I respect the comments that have been made,” Rafalowski said after public comments from people wanting him to remain in charge of East.
She was speaking at the end of Monday’s meeting of the Board of Education, a body she and Chairman Randall Jones said had nothing to do with Rafalowski’s recent decision to transfer Hare.
She said she told Hare on Thursday that for the 2022-23 school year, he was reassigned from East High to the West Ridge High Annex, which includes the alternative school and some career technical classes from West Ridge to Blountville, but is housed in a section of the former Sullivan Central Middle, also in Blountville.
“Staff movements are an integral part of the school system. They are the responsibility of the principal or the superintendent,” Jones said in an interview ahead of the meeting.
Patriot parents and students from Sullivan East, located near Bluff City, came out in force Monday evening, filling the council meeting room and waiting for the end of the meeting to speak on a topic that was not on the agenda. ‘agenda.
“Please, please address the hot topic in our community,” Dawson Jones told the seven-member board, saying Hare is a “fearless leader”, a voice, a teacher , a friend and guide to East and his students. “I am confident that you will make the best decision and replace Mr. Hare as principal of Sullivan East Secondary School.”
Before Jones, Rafalowski and the public commentators took the floor near the end of the meeting, Jones told them the comments could focus on policies and procedures, but not on a specific personnel issue. Jones and another commentator then got into a heated debate over whether Jones was violating his own reprimand by talking about information about Hare’s situation that he was aware of, but not the public.
THE COUNCIL ALSO DOES BUDGETARY BUSINESS
During the meeting, the board also approved a proposed 2022-23 budget that is more than $4 million less than the 2021-22 budget as approved, accomplished by eliminating the Innovation Academy. within Central Middle, cutting off the two AI bus lines and five other bus lines. road in the East High area, not replacing 19 teaching positions left vacant by attrition and awarding 1% raises rather than the 2% raises board members have said they want.
However, it grants additional pay increments to support staff, including part-timers, and increases training supplements and pay for nurses.
The general purpose school budget is proposed at $85,851,930, compared to the approved budget for 2021-2022 of $89,961,002. The spending plan, based on Tennessee and Sullivan County revenue estimates, would use $6.2 million in fund balances to balance the budget.
The plan is to appear before the budget committee of the county commission at 4 p.m. on June 15.
IS THERE HOPE COULD STAY EAST?
Hare attended the meeting but did not speak, although he spoke with supporters after the meeting.
“I would like to say how grateful I am to live in the community that I live in every day,” Hare said. He declined to comment further on the situation, which notably prompted a change.org petition which as of Monday night had attracted more than 2,500 signatures calling for Hare’s reinstatement in East since the petition was posted on Friday.
“There are more conversations to be had,” Rafalowski said. “I don’t know where these conversations will go.” There is no doubt, however, what pro-hare commentators want to happen.
“Ms. Rafalowski, you have a reputation for loving children and doing what’s best for them,” Bluff City’s Amy Bartley said.
East relative Frankie Lopez, who called on Hare supporters to be civil, said ‘good old boy’ policies and procedures needed to be changed to prevent employees from being ‘unfairly reassigned’ and not taken into account for the reassignments they wish.
He said a perceived bias can only be eliminated through a thorough, fair and equitable policy that does not transfer someone who does not want to transfer and creates first internal and then external job openings.
Jones said Tennessee law allows superintendents or principals, not school boards, to make assignments and transfers “as necessary for the effective operation of schools” and that unrequested transfers can still occur to jobs for which an employee is qualified and approved.
Rafalowski said that means she, not school board members, is responsible for transfers, hirings, firings and non-renewals.
“Thank you. I appreciate you being here. I appreciate you having a voice,” Rafalowski said.
Jones encouraged anyone emailing or commenting on the situation “to get the facts together before jumping to a conclusion,” adding that he’s seen emails he knows aren’t factual because that he’s seen things they haven’t that proves they’re not correct.
Lopez then said it was an inappropriate comment from Jones on a personnel matter. Another man near the middle of the room then said, “The only evidence we need is our school records. That’s better” than before Hare became principal, the man said.