Grundy County again postpones talks about new coach

Grundy County again postpones talks about new coach

February 10th, 2018 by Rosana Hughes in Local Regional News

Multiple pressing matters again were left without clear resolutions at the latest Grundy County, Tenn., school board meeting Thursday evening.

Last month, board members agreed to postpone a vote to move more money into the budget for the football coach's salary until Thursday night's meeting, with the expectation that the board's athletic committee also would interview the candidates.

That interview took place Wednesday night — two candidates answered questions posed by an athletic committee panel. No decision was made that night, but at Thursday's meeting, some board members said they wanted to evaluate all applicants to make sure the most suitable candidate is hired.

"It's our responsibility to take care of the county's money," board member Reuben Newsome said. "Even though it's [the director of school's] place to hire, we still have the right to make a recommendation."

The high school has been without a permanent head coach since former head coach Sherman "Casey" Tate was "removed from any and all responsibilities related to the football program" after reports that students attempted to rape another student on on school property on Oct. 11. Nick Meeks has been the interim coach.

Board members struggled to come to a consensus on how much a new coach should be paid. This was due, in part, to a misunderstanding between some board members and Director of Schools Jessie Kinsey.

Kinsey would not clarify when board members asked how much money was left in the budget and would not clarify when they asked how much the coaches are being paid now.

Board member Gary Melton, who is Kinsey's brother, repeatedly said he thinks Meeks should be compensated for his interim work. This led board members to believe that Meeks had not been paid for his service, which led to them voting to approve a $400-per-month salary increase for January and February.

But Meeks has been paid. Kinsey said after the meeting that Meeks received a lump-sum payment for the entirety of the school year. When a reporter asked her to clarify why the board was asked to approve the additional $400 per month, Kinsey responded, "It's just what you heard at the meeting. They just approved it. You'll have to go back and look at your notes."

School board Chairwoman Phyllis Lusk said she had no comment as to why extra money was needed.

Another issue that has been at the forefront of recent board meetings is the evaluation of the director of schools. Kinsey has not been evaluated in the two years she's been in office.

The board agreed Thursday to contact the Tennessee School Board Association for help in creating an evaluation tool for Kinsey.

Additionally, 11 school board policies were set to be updated, but that did not happen after the board agreed to table that discussion until the March meeting because of how late Thursday's meeting ran.

Among those updates are changes to the "homebound" education policy. The five boys who are charged with attempted aggravated rape are said to have been enrolled in that program, but it's not clear what their current status is, as a judge has placed a gag order on information connected to their case.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.