Cheatham County School Board approved a motion that would allow Interim Director of Schools Stacy Brinkley to apply for the director of schools position.

Prior to the board meeting school board members met individually with Wayne Qualls, ED.S, Principal and Education Consultant with TEAM Inc., out of Centerville, Tennessee. The agency has been hired by the district, charging approximately $6,000 dollars, to conduct a thorough search for a new director of schools. Qualls will conduct interviews with applicants, narrowing the search to six qualified candidates before board members begin their interviewing processes.

David Anderson, local resident and Facebook “Face and Places of Cheatham County” administrator, addressed the board during public forum.

Anderson stated he’d heard great things about Brinkley but was concerned the board was considering making policy changes to allow her to run for school director. Using taxpayers money to pay an agency to seek a director concerned Anderson when it could be perceived a director had already been chosen.

“I’ve heard rumors this was going to happen either tonight, or very soon,” stated Anderson, regarding policy change. 

In closing he asked board members to keep the process fair for every candidate and to consider the perception changing policy could raise to potentially interested applicants.

During an October board meeting David Bibee had stated some of the same concerns as Anderson.

“It could ‘muddy the waters’,” stated Bibee, referring to public perception and the implications of hiring in-house. He worried it could keep interested candidates from applying for the position limiting their options in choosing the most qualified person to lead the district. He didn’t question Brinkley’s qualifications or ability to do the job but he didn’t want it perceived they’d already chosen a director.                                                 ;

District 3 – Chairman Kimberly Messer

Chair Kimberly Messer explained they weren’t going to change policy but if a board member could make a motion to allow the interim director of schools to apply for the position.  Counsel on board policy had been sought with TSBA – Tennessee State Board Association.

Following Messer’s explanation, board member James Gupton made the motion requesting Brinkley have the opportunity to apply for director of schools while remaining the interim director.

Board Member James Gupton, Photo courtesy of Cheatham County School District

In October, prior to voting on a motion to place Stacy Brinkley as interim director, board member James Gupton suggested, if Brinkley wanted to apply for the full time position, she step down as interim director during the selection process of the director search and they appoint someone else to the role.  

After speaking with Qualls on Monday, he stated he was confident the search would be handled fair and professionally.

Agreeing with Gupton, Messer stated Brinkley would have to follow the same selection process as any other applicants and unless chosen as one of the six qualified candidates through Qualls’ interview process, she would not be interviewed by members of the school board.

Cheatham County School Board Member Jennifer Hamblin, Photo courtesy of Cheatham County School District

Jennifer Hamblin, board member, reiterated Interim Director of Schools Stacy Brinkley had done well in the role as interim director but worried perception could alter the number of candidates to apply for the position, limiting their options.

Bibee stated he’d recently been in contact with four individuals, separately, who’ve been at the state level at one point in their career advise him it wasn’t a good idea to have the interim director apply for the director position, while still the interim, because the perception would be the board had already selected their director of schools.

Cheatham County School Board Member David Bibee – Photo courtesy of Cheatham County Schools

“If we have the interim stay in place… we are narrowing the field of possible candidates that would apply for the position and I don’t think that’s what is best for the kids, school system or the county. We want the best person for the job and we need all applicants to enter,” stated Bibee Monday prior to the vote.



Cheatham County School Board Member David Risner, Photo courtesy of Cheatham County School District

Member David Risner didn’t want any applicant to miss out on the opportunity to apply, whether in house or someone outside, but didn’t want to create a situation where the interim director, if they chose to apply, resign and the board have to go through the process of selecting another interim director at this point in the school year. He stated it would be disruptive and, as Gupton, was confident the agency hired would conduct a fair search.

John Louallen Cheatham County School Board

Vice Chair John Louallen commented the selection process would be fair to any and all applicants.  He announced after Qualls had narrowed the applicants to six candidates they would be hosting meet and greets with the public, further adding fairness and transparency to the selection process

The motion to allow Interim Director of Schools Stacy Brinkley to apply for the director of schools position was approved by a 4-2 vote. Board members David Bibee and Jennifer Hamblin voted against the motion and board members voting in favor of the motion included Chair Kimberly Messer, Vice Chair John Louallen, James Gupton and David Risner.

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