Campbell County school officials did everything that was required of them concerning a former teacher-coach who has been the center of controversy at a Sevier County school, attorney Dail Cantrell told the school board at their Tuesday board meeting. WATCH the meeting HERE.
Pigeon Forge Middle School officials recently fired Daniel Allen Turner for inappropriate sexual advances toward students and claimed in news interviews that they were not made aware of similar allegations against Turner when he was fired earlier from his position at LaFollette Elementary School.
Further examination revealed that only one Campbell County official, CCHS Associate Head Coach Matt Price, was contacted concerning Turner’s record at Campbell County. Pigeon Forge High School coach Adrion Watson initially claimed that Price gave Turner a good recommendation, but later admitted that Price informed him that Turner had been placed on unpaid leave and later fired, but did not know the reasons why.
Pigeon Forge officials also claimed that Campbell County failed to inform the state board about Turner, but Cantrell told the school board that was also incorrect.
“Former Director Larry Niddifer did everything that was required. He notified the state that the teacher had been suspended without pay. I talked to state officials, and they were aware of the suspension,” Cantrell said, “you handled everything perfectly.”
One unidentified parent in the audience was not convinced, challenging Cantrell’s comments and accusing Campbell County of “covering up” Turner’s firing.
“Nothing was pushed under the rug. The allegations at LaFollette Elementary involved inappropriate sexual advances toward other teachers. No students were ever at risk after the teacher was suspended,” Cantrell replied. “I made a decision on what information should be disseminated to the public.”
The school board also unanimously passed a resolution opposing legislation in Nashville that would authorize school vouchers to enable parents to opt out of public education and receive state funds for private schools or home schooling.
Board member Faye Heatherly, who made the motion, reported that one voucher bill had been withdrawn but others were still being considered by the legislature. Board member Noah Smith urged board members to contact Senator Ken Yager and Representative Dennis Powers. He added that he had been unable to contact Powers, who reportedly is in favor of the voucher bill.
Barb Murphy with the Campbell County Art Association introduced new director Alan Miller, who made a brief presentation on the many projects that the group sponsors, from Art in the Park to art competitions at the Louie Bluie Festival, as well as youth art outreach and murals erected in various locations around LaFollette.
Noah Smith also introduced the Campbell County 4-H speech contestants. The students, who are coached by Smith, participated in the County 4-H Speech competition at Caryville. Public speaking is becoming a lost art, Smith said, as more and more people turn to the Internet.
Director Jennifer Fields also reported to the board that core drilling has begun at White Oak Elementary School as a first step toward finding a way to increase the school’s classroom capacity. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 02/14/2019-6AM)