published Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Bradley County board at odds over director evaluation

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — A recent performance evaluation given to Johnny McDaniel, director of Bradley County Schools, revealed a great disparity in opinions by members of the county school board.

McDaniel's evaluation, which was scored using a Tennessee School Boards Association form, tallied an overall rating of 3.58 out of 5, with "5" being "significantly above expectations."

Last year, the same seven-member board rated him 4.47 overall using a different evaluation form.

In a late Thursday meeting, the board voted 5-1 to enter the evaluation into the meeting minutes. Board member Christy Critchfield opposed the motion, and board member Rodney Dillard was absent.

"I voted against it because I don't think all the scores given were accurate," Critchfield said after the meeting.

Three members of the board consistently gave McDaniel a score of "5" in categories that rated him in regard to facilities and finance, vision, student achievement and relationships with the board, staff and community.

Those scores were at great odds to those given by board member Chris Turner, who is serving his second year on the Bradley County Board of Education, along with Nicholas Lillios.

"I didn't give him all 1's," Turner said.

The tally sheet for the evaluation, which averages 30 line items across six categories, showed that one board member assigned 16 ratings of "1" and 13 ratings of "2" or "3."

Board member Troy Weathers expressed amazement that someone would rate McDaniel so low considering student test scores and a graduation rate between 94 percent and 95 percent at the county's two high schools.

He questioned whether the low scores were driven by personal matters and not results.

"It ought to be [about] results -- and the results, ladies and gentlemen, are outstanding in Bradley County," said Weathers, who was interrupted by a long burst of applause from the packed meeting room.

"I question whether your expectations are realistic," said Turner of board members who rated McDaniel as a "5" in all categories. "For a director of schools that makes 5.7 times the average per capita income of the residents of Bradley County, I have very high expectations and I am not apologetic about that whatsoever."

McDaniel earns a salary of $120,670, according to Bradley County Schools budget documents.

"Education is a passion for me; it's not a job," McDaniel said. "I try to do my job every day with excellence, I try to do it with integrity, I try to do it with respect."

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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