The Professional Educators of Tennessee issued a statement on Wednesday in support of two Knoxville area principals who have been placed on leave.
On Tuesday, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported that L&N Stem Academy announced earlier in the day that a principal and assistant principal have been placed on leave. Superintendent Bob Thomas sent an email to parents announcing the change, saying that Becky Ashe and vice principal Tim Childers are on leave. Laura Boring will be taking over administrative duties for the period of the leave. No reason was offered for this action.
In a statement, Professional Educators of Tennessee Executive Director JC Bowman said:
As we understand it, an incident occurred that was properly reported to the authorities by Mr. Tim Childers, Vice Principal and Ms. Becky Ashe, Principal, both highly regarded educators at L&N STEM Academy. They did not instigate or cause this incident, the specifics of which are currently under investigation. Mr. Childers and Ms. Ashe, based on the information we have received, discharged their professional responsibilities in accordance with state law. This should be of no surprise to anyone. L&N STEM Academy is one of the highest performing schools in the state. U.S. News and World Report ranked the school the sixth best high school in Tennessee in 2016, and last year it ranked in the top 10 percent in performance in the state. We expect the matter to be resolved quickly. Administrative leaves of absence are not unusual when matters such as these are investigated by outside personnel.
The Professional Educators of Tennessee is a non-partisan alternative to teachers’ unions.
“Carly Harrington, spokeswoman for Knox County Schools, declined to comment on the reason for the administrative leave, citing an ongoing investigation,” the News Sentinel reported.
Knoxville Police Department Spokesman Darrell DeBusk would only say that the department is aware of an investigation at Knox County Schools, and that two administrators were involved in the L&N investigation. There is no word on a possible police investigation at this time.
Tennessee Department of Children’s Services spokesman Rob Johnson issued only a brief statement, stating, “While DCS is aware of the circumstances surrounding the situation, the department is not conducting an investigation of the school at this time.”
School board member Gloria Deathridge issued a strong response to the news: “I love Becky Ashe, so I’m kind of concerned as well, and hopefully we can get this sorted out because the school has flourished under her leadership and I think they will continue to do so.”
L&N is considered by U.S. News and World Report to be the 6th best high school in the state of Tennessee.
A parent of a high school senior at L&N offered words of praise for the school and the principals placed on leave:
We thank the Lord every day that our son has had the opportunity to attend L&N STEM Academy.
Mrs. Ashe and Mr. Childers have been supportive and caring administrators that have created a welcoming atmosphere for parents and a challenging academic experience for the students … My husband and I are both educators and realize that principals who create this type of environment are rare. We are heartbroken for both Mrs. Ashe and Mr. Childers, who we hope will be back where they belong as leaders at the L&N Stem Academy.