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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Hamilton County Schools former Chief of Schools Justin Robertson speaks to reporters at the Times Free Press in 2019. Robertson took over as the district's chief of operations in December 2019.

Two Hamilton County Schools leaders are taking on new roles as a third new face is joining Superintendent Bryan Johnson's administration.

Justin Robertson named chief operations officer

District veteran Justin Robertson was named chief operations officer this week after serving as chief of schools for the past two years. Robertson takes over the role left vacant when Ken Bradshaw left suddenly in September to take over as superintendent of Richmond County Schools in Augusta, Georgia.

Robertson will oversee transportation, school nutrition, maintenance, facilities, student discipline, technology and other non-academic services within the operations umbrella. He is also working directly with MGT, the private consulting firm that is helping the district develop a 10-year facilities plan.

Before Johnson's tenure, Robertson was named assistant superintendent in 2016 and previously was principal at Red Bank High School, Brown Middle School and Lookout Valley Elementary in Hamilton County.

Before returning home to Chattanooga, Robertson taught at Germantown High School and was an assistant principal in Shelby County Schools in Memphis.

 

Veteran police officer named student security coordinator

As the school district struggles to fill school resource officer vacancies and seeks to heighten school security, the Hamilton County Board of Education approved a new position in October to work as a liaison among schools, the district and law enforcement agencies to bolster safety measures.

James Corbin, a former officer with the Orlando Police Department and former executive director of the National Association of School Resource Officers, was hired and started in his position on Dec. 6. Corbin also has classroom experience — he taught for 11 years in Orange County Public Schools in Orlando, Florida.

As the new student security coordinator, Corbin will work to plan and monitor safety procedures at schools across the district. He will help schools create and refine safety plans, coordinate regular school building safety reviews, develop security training for school personnel, manage school-level emergency response teams and identify security issues and make recommendations for correction, according to a news release.

At Thursday's school board meeting, Corbin introduced himself to the school board at the request of Johnson and addressed some recent concerns board members have raised, including the potential to hire private security firms to provide security officers for schools without a school resource officer and whether he supported allowing school staff to carry firearms.

Corbin isn't in support of either idea, arguing that school resource officers are heavily vetted by their hiring agencies and there should be a narrow selection process when allowing an officer to work with children. As far as arming administrators or teachers, Corbin said, "it scares me."

 

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Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Neelie Parker, former executive director of the North River Learning Community, speaks to reporters at a Times Free Press editorial board in 2019. Parker was named chief of schools for Hamilton County Schools in December 2019.

North River executive director takes over as chief of schools

Neelie Parker, executive director of the North River Learning Community and former director of elementary schools, is taking over for Robertson as chief of schools.

Parker was one of the founding directors for the learning community concept introduced by Johnson in 2018. She led the North River Learning Community, which included schools in Hixson, Sale Creek and Soddy-Daisy. Under her leadership, the North River Learning Community had 10 reward schools in 2019, the most reward schools of the district's five learning communities, according to a news release. "Reward school" status is the top distinction a school can earn in Tennessee, based on improved student academic achievement and student growth indicated by state test scores.

Before being tapped to be a district administrator in 2015, Parker was a principal at Big Ridge Elementary and East Lake Elementary, as well as an assistant principal at Calvin Donaldson Elementary.

"The district is in a good position with talented individuals available to fill these vital posts serving the children of the community," Johnson said in a statement. "Dr. Robertson is very familiar with the operations of schools at the district and school level, and Dr. Parker has been with us through our academic transformation over the past two years. Both will be able to step right into these new roles and continue our progress to become the best school district in Tennessee."

Both Robertson and Parker's roles were effective immediately upon their announcement this week.

Contact Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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