School board races heat up following social media posts

Xavier Smith • Apr 2, 2018 at 5:15 PM

Three Wilson County Board of Education members have new challengers in their respective races after concern about the amount of uncontested races sparked a surge in candidates.

Administrators of the popular Facebook page, Parents of Wilson County TN Schools, voiced concerns about this year’s upcoming General Election after three of the four school board members seeking re-election did not have challengers with just more than a week before the qualifying deadline.

“I constantly hear people in this group commenting that they disagree with some of the votes school board members have made and that ‘we need to vote them out.’ Well...you can't vote someone out if they are running unopposed. And even if you are happy with your school board member, I just hate to ever see anyone run unopposed,” said page administrator Angela Butler.

Butler said she believed constituents should always have choices, and the presence of challengers holds members accountable to constituents.

Following the post, three candidates pulled petitions to challenge board members.

Matthew Mock pulled a petition to challenge Bill Robinson in Zone 2, and Maurisa Pasick is expected to challenge Linda Armistead in Zone 4, while Kimberly McGee pulled a petition to challenge Johnie Payton in Zone 6.

Chad Karl and James “Rusty” Keith pulled petitions to challenge Zone 7 incumbent Gwynne Queener prior to the Facebook post.

Mock previously worked at Tuckers Crossroads School before he was fired in 2015, along with two other employees, for pranks that happened on campus at the end of the school year.

According to a statement from Wilson County Schools, Mock and two other faculty members who were not tenured were cited for:

• placing a lotion-type substance on classroom door handles and a time clock.

• turning over chairs and desks in a classroom.

• taking vehicle keys and moving the vehicles without permission.

• taking Styrofoam packing peanuts that were school property and putting them in the car of one of the victims.

In response to his firing, Mock and Clemons appealed the decision, which led to a reduction in Mock’s firing to suspension for a semester. Last year, Wilson County Chancellor C.K. Smith reduced Mock’s original suspension to five days.

“I feel I would come with a fresh prospective for Zone 2 area. I have been in the teaching profession for 16 years in both regular education and special education,” said Mock, who noted wasted money and differentiated pay for teachers were two of the main reasons he decided to run.

Pasick said her son attends Springdale Elementary School, and she’s worked in the music business for the last 14 years.

 “I am a giant advocate for students and teachers and would love the opportunity to represent them to the best of my ability,” she said.

McGee, a 22-year Wilson County resident, said she has one son who attends Wilson Central High School and a son who attends West Wilson Middle School.
“I believe in Wilson County Schools, but I also believe it’s time for change. I know firsthand that success can be achieved through collaboration and a commonsense approach,” McGee said.

Wilson County commissioners appointed Queener to the school board last year after Larry Inman resigned from the board. The commission picked Queener over John Pope and Karl, who finished the 2016 election with nearly 270 more votes than Queener.

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