Dukes named schools director

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The interim director of schools was chosen to fill the job of director, without considering the other applicants.

The selection of Marshall County native Roy Dukes was greeted with a standing ovation from the audience at the school board's February meeting, held in the gym at Cornersville Elementary School Monday night.

Dukes has been interim director since October last year. At the board's December meeting, a motion to keep him on as interim until at least October 2010 was defeated, and a motion to post the director's job for 45 days was approved.

The posting attracted 17 applicants, including Dukes himself.

Each board member was handed a fat binder containing the applications.

Craig Michael explained that the board had a legal right to appoint Dukes, without going through the rest of the applications, and made the motion, which was seconded by Curt Denton.

"It's a slap in the face to the other 16 who applied to just ignore them," said new board member Barbara Kennedy.

"Overwhelmingly people talk about Dukes' experience, leadership and communication skills," argued Michael. "The time we would spend on the selection process would be better utilized moving forward."

"We could save a lot of money by not going through the search process," agreed Randy Perryman.

With a minimum of further discussion, chairman Mike Keny called for the vote, and Michael's motion passed by six votes to three, with board members Kennedy, Dee Dee Owens, and Kristen Gold voting against it.

"Thank you for your confidence," said Dukes, accepting the job. "Let's get everybody involved, move forward together and educate our children."

In his director's report, he was able to tell the board and audience some good news. Three of the Teachers of the Year are going on to the Regional competition: Mike Pieschel (Spot Lowe), Delphine Hockett (Cornersville Elementary) and Karen Donahue (Marshall Elementary). Rep. Bart Gordon has nominated two students from Forrest to the nation's military academies: Justin Vagts to the air force and Logan Scott to the navy.

Dukes also handed the board members a summary of what Marshall County will be eligible for if Tennessee wins a Race To The Top grant.

"Race To The Top is going to be tough," he told them. "We have to be exceptional."

Dukes - along with human resources director Mitchell Byrd and Mike Wiles, executive director of the Joint Economic and Community Development Board - will be going to two recruiting fairs, one in Nashville and one in Huntsville, to look for new teachers on Feb. 23 and 24. He said he plans to follow up with visits to recruiting days at the individual colleges and universities.