By Ashley Rader
A group of citizens has started an online petition to the Elizabethton Board of Education asking that Director of Schools Ed Alexander’s contract not be renewed in September and for policy changes to keep one person from having the power to hire and fire.
Rebecca Powers posted the petition to the website SignOn.org Friday evening on behalf of the Elizabethton Citizens who Demand Honesty and Integrity in our Schools. Talk of a petition began when Alexander hosted a public meeting to discuss his recommendation to not re-hire Doug Mitchell as principal of West Side Elementary.
Some who attended the meeting were not satisfied with Alexander’s explanation for his decision, and in turn began to call for him to be removed from his position.
In addition to asking that Alexander not be rehired as director of schools, the petition also asks the school board “to enact policies and procedures to prevent any one individual from having the power to hire and fire employees at will.” Citizens have expressed their displeasure that the director of schools has the sole power to make personnel changes and the school board is not able to override or influence those decisions.
The petition had gained 112 online “signatures” as of Wednesday morning, with about 30 of the names listing an address other than Elizabethton. People have signed the petition who live in Elizabethton, Hampton, Watauga, Blountville, Bluff City, Kingsport, Bristol, Johnson City, Jonesborough, Limestone and Gray as well as from Joplin, Mo., Snowflake, Va. and Greeneville, S.C.
“This is to send a message to the school board that we expect action from them on this,” Powers said. “We do not want Mr. Alexander’s contract to be renewed in September.”
When contacted, Alexander said he was aware of the petition, but had no comment.
School board chair Rita Booher said this is the first time during her tenure as a school board member that a citizens’ group will have presented a petition to the school board.