Knox County Superintendent Thomas offers condolences to family of slain teen, talks about first week of class


Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas. (FILE Photo: WATE)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knox County Schools Superintendent Bob Thomas offered condolences to the family of Johnkelian “John John” Mathis and asked for people seeking a job to consider working as support staff for the school district in a letter to parents on Friday.

Mathis was killed in a shooting on the morning of Aug. 8. He is the sixth Austin-East student to have died from gun violence this year.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Johnkelian’s family during this difficult time,” Thomas said. “As I have said before, our community must address the issue of gun violence, and Knox County Schools is committed to working with local leaders to find solutions and ensure that students can learn without fear.

“The Austin-East community has suffered greatly this year, and we continue to mourn the losses of Justin Taylor, Stanley Freeman Jr., Janaria Muhammad, Jamarion Gillette, and Anthony Thompson Jr.”

Thomas said he visited several schools during the first week of classes this week and was impressed with the enthusiasm and energy of the staff and teachers.

“Thank you to all of our school personnel, our students and our families for making this week a huge success,” he said.

“From the front office to the cafeteria to the classroom, it takes a team effort to help students feel welcome and to support their academic progress. The employees I have talked with this week are completely focused on our mission, and I am very grateful for their dedication. It is truly amazing to see how much our employees care for our students.”

Thomas went on to say KCS is offering a one-time $1,000 bonus for custodial and school nutrition workers.

“If you know of a friend or relative who cares about young people and wants to serve their community, please make them aware of this $1,000 hiring incentive.”

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