Knox County mayor questions transparency in school board meeting

Knox County mayor questions transparency in school board meetings

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Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett
By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is making waves after an appearance on a Knoxville radio show.

The mayor appeared on Knox Talk Radio's “The Rude Awakening” to discuss the school board and Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.

"Lets be honest. The superintendent controls the school board, tells them what to do," Burchett told 94.3 FM. "They're playing their little game and I think arrogance comes before the fall."

A four minute clip of the radio interview has gotten more than 1,000 plays on YouTube.

Burchett said he questions the transparency with the mayor's office telling 6 News he is concerned about frequent executive session meetings that are held in private before the public meetings.

“They have a little private meeting before and if that was commission or any other entity, the media would be breathing down on them but they bring in a lawyer and they call it executive session or something like that and they get around it say they're just conferring when the reality is they're working out how the meeting is going to go," Burchett said.

6 News spoke with school board member Karen Carson about the executive sessions.

"I would talk to him and say, 'What are you talking about?'" Carson said in response to the mayor's comments.

Carson said the executive sessions are strictly meant to discuss pending litigation.

Knox County Law Director Bud Armstrong told 6 News executive sessions are permitted to be behind closed doors.

“By law if you're discussing lawsuits and just being informed of them, it's not to be out you know they can't talk about suits that are pending,” Carson said.

The school district said the executive sessions are held quarterly and notification is included in the public notice for the meetings.

Burchett also raised concerns with last week's school board meeting when chair Lynne Fugate called an emergency meeting after board member Mike McMillan asked to postpone a vote on the five-year strategic plan.

McMillan wanted to delay the vote so that newly elected school board members would be able to vote on the issue.

Carson said the board made the right call on voting on it last week.

“This whole process has involved thousands of people and a year to put together,” Carson said. “To expect people to come in September 1 and to fully take it in and make appropriate changes I think is unrealistic."

Incoming school board member Amber Rountree told 6 News she didn't think postponing the vote would have caused any harm and she said she questions whether the nature of the vote truly warranted an emergency meeting.

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