After unanimously voting down changes to the director of attendance job requirements during their November meeting, the Coffee County Board of Education held a work session and special call meeting last week to hammer out the details.
The motion that was shot down during the regular November meeting is as follows: consider removing the requirement of a Master’s Degree as well as the supervisor’s endorsement 094 and replacing that with a bachelor’s degree with a teaching license preferred.
Director of Schools LaDonna McFall was present for this meeting after being unable to attend the previous one. She explained that a few years ago, she asked all central office personnel to update and write their own job descriptions, as the previous descriptions were not compliant with state law.
“Just as people come and go to not really make it about a person, but about the position. In a job description, you want it to be as general as possible to give the school district leeway to hire the best person for the job,” McFall explained.
Therefore, she felt the director of attendance description was skewed toward Sharon Spears, who is retiring at the end of the semester.
Spears’s job required a master’s degree with an emphasis in supervision administration and an attendance supervisor’s endorsement 094.
“The TN Attendance Supervisor code states the applicant must hold a valid teacher’s license, must have eight completed semester hours in areas such as guidance counseling, community and school relations, special education, social case work, state and federal laws related to school attendance,” McFall said.
“We also reviewed, and I know Pat (Barton) at least called around and talked to other school districts about what they were doing and I have job descriptions from several different areas and honestly, they are all over the place” she explained. “Some, it is a, basically, a secretary type position – it’s a non-certified person. Most are valid teacher’s license, some have professional with supervisor endorsement.
“There is an attendance supervisor endorsement, but basically, if you are a certified teacher, all you have to do is call and say ‘I want to add that code,’ because it’s a class in those areas that I read out you that certified teachers have,” she said.
Tullahoma School District, for example, has three people doing Spears’s job.
Deputy Director of Schools Joey Vaughn piqued in and added that several candidates have already called the state and added the endorsement to their resumes.
Because of all this, McFall revised her original motion and changed the job requirements to as follows: hold a valid teacher’s license with at least five years of teaching experience, master’s degree preferred.
Board Member Freda Jones, in response to hearing Tullahoma’s hiring choice, was concerned about what this could mean for Coffee County. She didn’t want Coffee County to hire a person unfit for the job and someone who would need the district to hire help in the future.
“All of the schools that are similar size to us have a Masters in Administration and Supervision because it is administration and supervision,” Jones said. “That position is dealing with parents, it’s dealing with principals, it’s dealing with teachers, and it can’t just be someone that just has a teaching certification and that’s it, just taught in the classroom. There’s got to be other qualifications that go along with that in my opinion.”
“This is kind of vague,” she said in reference to the job description. “There’s a lot of things to do here and if I were director of schools, I would certainly want a job description that got me the person that I wouldn’t have to worry about all that. I wouldn’t have to worry about that person not being able to handle all of the aspects of it and not having to come to you and say I can’t handle this, I need help, I need somebody else to help me.”
“I think this has happened in the past when people look at central office personal and systems don’t want to look like they’re overloaded at the top, they disguise that and put it with two or three different people and they’re not considered central office people and it makes them look better. I know that’s happened in different systems,” Jones concluded.
McFall questioned if this has ever happened while she has been director – if anyone needed to ask for someone else to be hired to help.
“I’m not saying that. I’m just saying I don’t want that to happen,” Jones replied.
Chairman Brett Henley pulled the conversation back to the topic at hand – approving or disproving the new motion.
After hearing the board’s comments, McFall agreed to change the motion to “masters required” and, because it is so easy for teachers with a teaching license to get the 094 endorsement for attendance supervisors, added “applicable attendance supervisor license” to the description.
The board unanimously approved the new job requirements, which reads, must “hold a hold a valid teacher’s license with at least five years of teaching experience, master’s degree required, and applicable attendance supervisor license required.”
Henley was concerned the board was overstepping their authority by being directly involved with deciding a job description.
“It’s in our policy that you approve job descriptions,” McFall said.
Henley pointed out that “approve” and “establish” are two very different things.
“If she gives us something for approval, that’s one thing,” he said. “But for us to establish and make out that particular job description, I feel is not within our privy. But if you give us something that is a specific that you want to be, and we vote it yes or no, that’s within our privy.”
Henley charged LaDonna with presenting them a job description to approve or disapprove. They can offer their opinions in dialogue, but they cannot write it out as a board.
“She gives up X, Y, Z, this is what I want the job description to be, and we can say yes or no,” Henley said