Etowah Principal May Have Violated Tennessee Law By Urging Teachers to Fight School Vouchers

Etowah City School Principal Brian Trammell recently emailed his teachers and staff and urged them to lobby against the school vouchers’ bill up for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly.

The Tennessee Star confirmed the information Thursday after filing open records requests for school officials’ emails from several school districts in the state.

Trammell possibly violated Tennessee’s Little Hatch Act by sending this email.

The law prohibits state employees from engaging in political activity on the job.

An email Trammell sent to his staff members on April 11 — a Thursday at 11:13 a.m. — was a call to action.

“The response from our Senators and Representatives will be that it will not effect McMinn County/Etowah City School students and families, but it will. Once pandoras box is open, parent groups, such as Homeschool parents start suing wanting the same ‘benefit’ in every district in the State. The courts will see this as discrimination and open it up in every district,” Trammell wrote.

“Please read the following and email the following concerns about this Bill. I implore you to email Senator Mike Bell (who, by the way, voted for this Bill yesterday) and Governor Lee and tell them you are opposed to this Bill. I am also asking you to have your friends and family to email them as well. If they do not live in McMinn County have them contact their Representative and Senator from their district (See the Link Below). What is being communicated is ‘the folks in favor of this Bill are out numbering the opposition. If you do not email them, they believe by default you are in favor of this Bill. Please get this done ASAP, they are moving this bill fast so it will pass before it too much attention!”

Trammell went on to urge teachers and staff to engage in other types of action.

“If you have time please email Representative Mark Cochran and thank him for standing up in opposition to this Bill. He is under extreme pressure from very wealthy and powerful lobbyist, inside his Party and from folks not even from Tennessee,” Trammell wrote.

“I think it’s safe to say that 99% of you would agree that this is a step in the wrong direction, and NOT what is best for Tennessee’s children. Keep up the fight and standup for our public schools.”

Tennessee’s Little Hatch Act prohibits state employees from the following:

• Displaying campaign literature, banners, placards, streamers, stickers, signs, or other items of campaign or political advertising on the premises of state property.

• Using state-owned property for campaign advertising or activities.

• Engaging in political activity not directly a part of that person’s employment during any period when the person should be conducting business of the state.

• Promulgating any rules or issuing any policies that are more restrictive than the Act.

The law also says “No person holding a position in the preferred service shall solicit, directly or indirectly, or require any other person to solicit, directly or indirectly, donations or contributions for any political party, candidate, cause or purpose in order to acquire or deny a position in state service or to materially affect the retention, promotion or demotion of any employee in state service.”

According to a knowledgeable source, any employees who felt intimidated because of Trammell’s email could file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Tennessee Human Rights Coalition.

You can see a copy of the email here:

[pdf-embedder url=””]

– – –
Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Etowah City School” by Etowah City School. 








Related posts

5 Thoughts to “Etowah Principal May Have Violated Tennessee Law By Urging Teachers to Fight School Vouchers”

  1. […] The Star reported last month, Brian Trammell, another principal in Etowah, recently emailed his teachers and staff and urged […]

  2. Wolf Woman

    As long as any remnants of Common Core remain in the Tn educational system,
    as long as politics and government run the system to advance their own agendas,
    as long as our tax dollars pay for bloated salaries for educational bureaucrats and don’t go to pay teachers,
    as long as political correctness and multiculturalism (got to pay for illegals’ kids vouchers too) trump the teachers having control of the classroom and
    as long as the teachers teach old fashioned reading, writing, math, civics and geography,
    our schools will remain sewers that our children trudge through until they’ve been “woke” to social justice and racial “inequities” and allowed to graduate. Then their parents can pay through the nose to send them to college with all the “dreamers” the Legislature wants to support.

  3. Bill Delzell

    School vouchers are a rip-off designed to rob public schools of their already meager funds. Only the very wealthy can use school vouchers to get into a privatized charter school. Charter schools have no academic standard guidelines and do not have to account for their finances the way public schools must do. What is to prevent a charter school from financially going under at the last minute? These are precautions that anybody interested in sending their children to a charter school must think about before committing themselves and their children.

    1. Horatio Bunce

      Meager funds? Many private schools in east TN charge less than the $10k per year the government monopoly schools spend per student.

      And accountability and standards? When the public system is churning out graduates that need remedial work at an 84% rate, how can you deny parents another option?

      Trammell whines about the potential students not taking the perennially failing TN READY tests. Is he really this stupid, or doesn’t he understand if you don’t take the federal dollars, you aren’t required to take the federal government mandated tests? If they would just give up Uncle Sugar’s money, they could dump common core, the federal tests, providing “free” school to illegal aliens, and get their freedom back.

  4. Kevin

    Who here thinks that this principal acted alone?

    One can bet that this is just an exposed case of the effort by the Education Industrial Complex (TSBA/TOSS/TEA) to derail any effort that allows parents to change the destiny of their children! The EIC doesn’t care if one of their “foot soldiers” gets exposed and destroyed for doing their dirty deeds. Principals are considered expendable!.

    All we need is for one of these Principals to have the intestinal fortitude to expose who put them up to this task, then the fun begins!

    Remember, all that we need for an excellent system for educating the public, are students and teachers! All of the rest, is strictly overhead, some more than others! The “heads” of TSBA/TOSS/TEA are raking in high six figure salaries. They don’t ever want to go back to being a lowly teacher.

    And that is the real reason why “they” (the EIC) will stop at nothing to prevent school choice from becoming an option for the average parent. Teachers and students are just pawns. Sad!