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Garrett named school superintendent

By DAWN HANKINS - dhankins@t-g.com
Posted 2/25/21

The only out-of-town candidate making it to the final four interviews for local school superintendent, Tammy Garrett of Murfreesboro, was clearly the underdog. On Tuesday, the Murfreesboro City principal pulled out the required majority votes. 7-to-2, needed for the appointment...

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Garrett named school superintendent

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The only out-of-town candidate making it to the final four interviews for local school superintendent, Tammy Garrett of Murfreesboro, was clearly the underdog. On Tuesday, the Murfreesboro City principal pulled out the required majority votes. 7-to-2, needed for the appointment.

Garrett said Wednesday, "I am so excited and honored to join the team at Bedford County Schools. I'm looking forward to being part of a team that places great value on education. Through the interview process, it became apparent to me that not only does Bedford County value education, it's also a wonderful community with great traditions. I am eager to begin working with the team to form partnerships to reach our goals."

School board chair Diane Neeley also said Wednesday, "I'm very excited to have Dr. Garrett and I truly think our board looks forward to working with her."

With last week's inclement weather pushing back the school board's meeting schedule, it will likely be mid March before Garrett's contract is finalized and she moves into the Central Office. Following negotiations, a special called meeting will be held in the near future to approve the official contract between Garrett and Bedford County Board of Education.

Interim superintendent Karen Scoggins, one of those four candidates recently interviewed for the position, will continue to serve as acting superintendent until the hiring process is complete for Garrett. Once her contract is approved, the new superintendent will have the choice of hiring a new assistant superintendent or keeping Scoggins.

The newly appointed superintendent, who currently serves as the executive principal of Mitchell-Neilson in Murfreesboro, said during her recent interview how she intends to represent herself as the "voice of local education" - one which will always strive to inspire both kids and teachers to do their best. "Teaching is an art. You are constantly growing, learning and reflecting."

Also vying for the superintendent job were Community High School Principal Robert Ralston and Shelbyville Central High School Principal Tim Harwell. All of the recently interviewed candidates attended Tuesday night's meeting at the Central Office board room.

Harwell would officially come in second to Garrett with his five votes and Scoggins slightly trailed with four. Ralston's one vote was cast by board member Dan Reed, who represents the Unionville district.

Board chair Diane Neeley told those in attendance and others viewing online, "This decision is not taken lightly, by any member of this board. While I realize, as we all do, there will be many emotions . . . we all must remember that no matter who is chosen, we as a board, a system and a community, must unite and work together."

Neeley thanked the four candidates and commended their efforts of being prepared and for sharing their abilities during the two-week interview process. Board members followed suit with their words of appreciation, especially for Scoggins, who has served as interim superintendent since Don Embry retired in December.

Prior to the board's official appointment of Garrett, Neeley explained to board members how the voting process would work. Her recommendation was that the nine board members would select, but not rank, two out of the four candidates interviewed via paper ballot. She informed the members that in case of a tie, the board would vote again, until a majority vote, which is required by law, was reached.

She explained her recommendation, which would earn a motion and a second, was based on her consultation with Tennessee School Board Association, and also with the board's legal counsel.

Neeley said she researched how other school boards across the nation have used this voting method and said her recommendation has been used previously used by the local school board. While she urged her fellow members to achieve a unanimous vote, she said that a simple majority would win the appointment. When member Michael Cook asked for clarification, she explained that a candidate with five or more votes becomes the new superintendent.

Prior to the official vote, board member Glenn Forsee made an amendment to the chair's recommendation - one in which each board member would select only one candidate of choice, not two, as Neeley recommended. If that one candidate lacked the required majority vote, then the top two would be declared. Board members would then have to vote again, ultimately selecting between those two candidates at that point.

While Forsee said his process was consistent with all other board actions, his amendment failed to gain a second. Forsee maintained his position, casting the only 'no' vote against Neeley's motion.

The vote took about five minutes. Board Secretary Suzanne Alexander read the ballot results: Andrea Anderson, Scoggins and Harwell; Brian Crews, Garrett and Scoggins; David Brown, Garrett and Harwell; Nicole Cashion, Garrett and Scoggins; Diane Neeley, Garrett and Harwell; Dan Reed, Ralston and Garrett; Michael Cook, Garrett and Scoggins; John Boutwell, Garrett and Harwell; Glenn Forsee, one vote only, Harwell.

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