The Tennessee House passed two bills expanding the authority of county mayors and teachers in exigent situations. Both were approved on Monday and are awaiting passage in the Senate.
Under HB0007, county-wide policy-making powers related to public health emergencies would be reserved solely for the county mayor in counties with particular population counts. The bill would only apply to Shelby, Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Sullivan, and Madison counties. Those six counties would also see their county boards of health or county health committees demoted to advisory roles. State Representative Jason Zachary (R-Knoxville) (pictured right) introduced the bill last November. It passed 67-26.
It’s not just the state government considering this change. The Knox County Commission has been considering a similar measure to reduce the Knox County Board of Health’s powers. After its initial vote to strip the board of its emergency powers, the commission stalled during the final vote by delaying their decision. The commission is expected to take up that vote again on April 26. It is unclear whether the local commission or the Senate will be the first, if either, to advance on those measures.
As reported previously by The Tennessee Star, HB0016 or the “Teacher’s Discipline Act” would ensure that teachers have the authority to remove problematic students from their classrooms or certain situations in which the student has become disruptive or dangerous. State Representative Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka) (pictured left) introduced the bill in December. It passed 81-15.
Current provisions in the law concerning a teacher’s authority to relocate problematic students defers the decision to local boards of education as to whether or not teachers may use reasonable or justifiable force.
The bill concerning county mayor authority is awaiting assignment in the Senate. As for the Teacher’s Discipline Act, the Senate may vote on the bill in the near future – it was recommended for passage in committee.
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