The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) has had 240 employees leave since February, Fox 17 reports.
Of the 240 people who left the department: 149 people resigned; 33 people retired; and another 54 people received “involuntary terminations.”
TDOE has experienced a 19 percent turnover rate under new Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, who took over the job nine months ago. Previous commissioners had rates between nine percent and 14 percent, according to Fox 17.
A TDOE spokeswoman issued a statement to Chalkbeat.org about the high turnover rate.
“Continued growth requires new approaches, and thus the work must look different than it has in the past,” she said.
Last week, the ChalkBeat reported that Schwinn had created a workplace culture that has gotten rid of “new and long standing” talent.
Employees who have left range from CFOs, superintendents and executive directors.
People who spoke to Chalkbeat on the condition of being anonymous told the news site that Schwinn had created an environment of tight deadlines, miscommunication and micromanagement. Furthermore, these employees allege she has built an “expensive, top heavy leadership team” that has not filled important employee positions.
“Morale is completely depleted. Most people who are left are either actively looking for jobs or are brushing up their resumes,” An anonymous employee said. “This isn’t about people being terminated or even reclassified; it’s just people quitting.”
Gov. Bill Lee’s Press Secretary Laine Arnold told Chalkbeat that the governor fully supports Schwinn.
“The Department of Education has a clear directive to challenge the status quo by developing solutions that best advocate for students and teachers,” Arnold said. “We are confident that changes in structure reflect a desire to build the most effective team that will deliver on this mission.”
Lee hired Schwinn in January after he became governor. Previously, she acted as Chief Deputy Commissioner of Academics at the Texas Education Agency. While in Texas, she was involved in a controversy about having local school systems pay for testing costs. Local school board members in Texas called it an unfunded mandate.
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