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Dan Rawls
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Christy Critchfield

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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- Bradley County school board member Christy Critchfield's abrupt resignation last week leaves the County Commission to appoint a replacement.

Critchfield, who represented the 6th District, resigned in anger following a 4-3 vote on Tuesday to buy out Superintendent Johnny McDaniel's contract. Critchfield was an outspoken supporter of McDaniel, whose last day was Saturday.

Sixth District Commissioners Robert Rominger and Dan Rawls, who are responsible for naming a candidate to fill the school board vacancy, have different ideas about how and when that process should take place. Rominger would like it sooner; Rawls would like it later.

"Join us and find out about the shenanigans one member of the County Commission is trying to pull to bypass the community in selecting an interim 6th District school board member," Rawls said in a recent Facebook post inviting people to hear him speak on local radio.

In a related social media post, Rawls said that "some people are attempting to highjack [sic] the process."

Rominger said he would like to put a nominee -- whom he did not name -- before the County Commission as soon as Monday.

It would take 10 votes on the 14-member commission to add the measure to Monday's voting agenda, said Rominger.

Rawls, though, said he wants to "wait and give [the replacement process] plenty of time."

"I would like to ensure we have somebody with experience and knowledge of the school system."

Rawls said he's already heard the names of five possible candidates, and he would like to know if there are other potential qualified replacements.

Critchfield began her third four-year term on the school board in 2014. The commission appointee would hold the seat until a special election in 2016.

Rawls said he would like a "gentlemen's agreement" that the appointee would not run in that election, whose winner would serve the remaining two years of the term.

Immediately following the buyout vote, Critchfield said she was "disgusted and ashamed" to be a member of the school board, adding, "vengeance is mine."

Rominger and Rawls could not be farther apart in regards to McDaniel, either.

Rawls has long been critical of McDaniel's administration, where Rominger was a supporter.

"I was hoping it wouldn't happen," said Rominger. "The [buyout] meeting was like a funeral. It is sad when you get rid of the Superintendent of the Year."

McDaniel, who was Tennessee's 2013 Superintendent of the Year, cited a number of "philosophical" differences that separated him from a majority of board members in a recent statement.

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

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