By Ashley Rader
The Elizabethton Board of Education denied Doug Mitchell’s request Tuesday evening for an appeal of his transfer from West Side Elementary principal to T.A. Dugger Junior High School teacher, and later heard comments from a half-dozen citizens critical of the man who transferred Mitchell.
The board voted 3-2 to deny the appeal based on opinions from four attorneys who said the board could not rule on an appeal on a personnel transfer in the school system.
Board chair Rita Booher said she had spoken with four attorneys to get an opinion on the appeal request. She said she was told appeals for transfers could not be done, and if the board heard the appeal it would set a precedent for the board to hear more appeals in the future that they could not make a ruling on.
Board member Catherine Armstrong said she did not agree with the attorneys’ opinion and felt the board should hear the appeal from Mitchell.
“I think we owe it to the community, to the school system and to Mr. Mitchell to hear this appeal,” Armstrong said.
Board member Dr. Grover May said he had also spoken with attorneys about the appeal and agreed with Booher’s explanation. He said by state statute the board could not hear the appeal and could not overturn Director of Schools Ed Alexander’s decision to transfer Mitchell.
“At the most, we can ask for a resolution asking Mr. Alexander to change his mind on the transfer,” May said.
Board member Connie Baker agreed with Armstrong that the board should accept the appeal request.
“Out of respect for the work he did at the school and what the parents are saying, the least we can do is allow the appeal and hear what he has to say,” Baker said.
Armstrong made the motion to hear the appeal, which Baker seconded. Armstrong and Baker cast votes in favor of the appeal and Booher, May and Phil Isaacs voted against the appeal.
Mitchell said he was disappointed that he was not able to bring his evidence for his appeal before the board.
“I had anticipated being able to present my appeal,” he said. “I understand there are legal statutes that come to play. It is unfortunate because so many board policies have not been followed. I am disappointed because I wanted people to hear the real truth about actions that have taken place in these last four months.”