published Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Grundy County impasse leaves Jody Hargis leading schools

Interim Grundy County Director of Schools Jody Hargis will hold his post after county board of education members found themselves split over two local candidates for the job.

Board member Anita Meeks said the board had narrowed a field of 13 candidates to two but was divided between in-system hopefuls Janet Layne and Golda Colquette.

"There wasn't enough votes [to generate a decision]. It was all locked up," Meeks said of the board's tally. "So they just kept Jody on for another year."

Meeks said she didn't "feel good" about making a selection now because there had been too much early talk and she thought decisions were being discussed outside public view.

She also said she and other board members do not want to decide on the post with new members possibly resulting from August elections. The board could gain as many as four new members, she said.

Board member Charles Sanders said he couldn't say there had been any discussions outside public meetings but board members couldn't agree on Hargis' replacement either way.

"We had four for one and five for another, and nobody would back down," he said of the board's division. A director decision requires a two-thirds majority vote, he said.

The school director seat in Grundy County has shifted in recent years, from Hargis to former classroom teacher Clay Newsome for about six months in 2010, then back to Hargis as interim director after Newsome was removed from the post, newspaper archives show.

Hargis, who has not commented on the search, will remain interim director until June 2013.

When the post was advertised in March, 13 people applied, officials said. Besides Layne and Colquette, two other job seekers were from within the system, while others came from as far away as Selawik, Alaska, and Cypress, Texas.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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