Tennessee Republicans call for Kevin Huffman's resignation

Tennessee Republicans call for Kevin Huffman's resignation

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Kevin Huffman (source: State of Tennessee) Kevin Huffman (source: State of Tennessee)
By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - In a letter to Governor Bill Haslam, a group of Tennessee Republicans has demanded the immediate resignation of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman.

"Our trustworthiness has continued to be jeopardized on education reform. We feel that a great source of that mistrust comes from the actions, and general attitude of Commissioner Kevin Huffman," reads the letter signed by 15 Republican representatives including Sen. Frank Niceley, R-Strawberry Plains; Rep. Tilman Goins, R-Morristown; U.S Senate candidate and state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas; and Rep. Rick Womick, R-Rockvale, who has called for Huffman's resignation before.

Web extra: Read the full letter [PDF]

Sen. Niceley said there is concern over the late release of the TCAP quick scores and said these are "shenanigans," accusing Huffman of withholding the scores to conceal poor results. The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Womick said Huffman of violated state law.  

"Commissioner Huffman has violated TCA 49-1-607 by not releasing the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) test results to LEA's across the state as is required by TCA 49-1-617. Instead, he issued illegal and unauthorized waivers to various LEA's so that he and the Department of Education could conceal tdisastrousous results of this years TCAP test scores," the letter reads.

State Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, also raised concerns over the legality of waiving the quick scores and Mae Beavers, R-Mt. Juliet, has requested the opinion of the attorney general.

Previous story: State Rep. Gloria Johnson alleges state commissioner of education may have violated law over TCAP waiver

Last month the Department of Education delayed the TCAP quick scores because they said the process of "post-equating" took longer than expected.

Huffman, who was brought on as Education Commissioner in 2011, waived the requirement for districts, including Knox County, to not include the scores in students' final grades.

Previous story: Knox County report cards delayed, TCAP scores won't factor in final grades

In Knox County, report cards were still delayed and the Board of Education has requested reimbursement of $25,000.

At the time a spokesperson from the DOE provided a brief statement on the concerns regarding Huffman's ability to waive TCAP scores. "The commissioner does have the authority to wave the inclusion of TCAP scores in student grades. The limits of the waiver apply solely to students taking the assessments, and to the associated federal and state accountability," said a spokesperson.

Gov. Haslam's office responded to the letter late Thursday night:

“Education is one of the most serious issues for the future of our state, and the governor believes there is a more productive way to discuss something so significant than through a letter by a small group of legislators more interested in trying to get headlines than substance. Our office reached out to several of these members earlier in the week to discuss their concerns, and it is disappointing they chose a political stunt instead of constructive dialogue," read the statement by press secretary Dave Smith.

Huffman's office also issued a statement Friday morning saying the law was not broken because TCAP scores were released after a delay of four days and the process that delayed the TCAP release is a widely recognized best practice used to determine the test's reliability and viability.

The state education department also said the claim that the process is an effort to alter scores is categorically untrue.

Web extra: Read the full statement [PDF]

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