Photo by J.J. Kindred
Thomas Deakins, left, was appointed at the Knox County School Board’s new chairman during its meeting Sept. 7. He replaces Indya Kincannon, right, who was appointed as vice-chairwoman.
By J.J. KINDRED
The Sept. 7 Knox County School Board meeting began with a changing of the guard.
Board member Thomas Deakins, who just began his sixth year representing the 6th District, was chosen to serve as the board’s new chairman. He replaces Indya Kincannon, who served in the position for three years.
However, Kincannon is not completely out of leadership status, as she was immediately appointed vice-chairwoman, replacing board member Karen Carson.
Both Deakins and Kincannon were nominated by acclimation, an oral vote without a formal ballot.
"I thank you for your faith in me for this position, and hopefully I won’t make too many mistakes out of the gate," Deakins said as he and Kincannon switched seating positions. "We will go through this together."
Board member Cindy Buttry was also appointed as its Tennessee Legislative Network (TLN) representative. TLN is composed of board members representing each of the school districts in Tennessee, and governed by a board of directors which sets the Tennessee School Board Association’s legislative agenda and also supports its legislative efforts.
Meanwhile, Deakins said that although he had aspirations to be the board chairman in the past, it was time for him to take the next step.
"It’s a job where you volunteer to the chair, and I feel that now’s the time," Deakins said after the meeting. "Before there were times I wanted to be chair, but my work schedule would not allow it. I think if you’re going to be chair you need to be at every meeting, and so this year I was able to accommodate that with my work schedule.
"I also think that my background in management and other qualities will be good leadership," Deakins continued. "Indya has done a great job the last three years, but she wanted to step down, and it was one of those things where I felt a calling and it was time for me to step up."
Deakins said that some changes he would like to make include the discontinuation of timed agendas and have more interaction with its funding body, the Knox County Commission. He added that he will heavily deal with the ongoing issues of the possible outsourcing of custodians and the Carter Elementary school project saga.
In other business, the board to examine the charging documents that, if found to be true, warrant the tenure revocation of Mikel Burns, the Bearden Middle School social studies teacher who was accused of continually making inappropriate comments to students such as “I don’t care if you die,” for example. He also failed to show up to work occasionally.
Deakins said that if indeed the charges against Burns were true, the case would be moved on to the school’s hearing authority, which is an outside group of individuals, and make a rendering on that decision. He declined to discuss the specific charges.