2 Tennessee College of Applied Technology teachers fired in wake of arrests

John Thompson • Nov 8, 2013 at 9:37 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Two teachers from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology — Elizabethton who had previously ben arrested by the Carter County Sheriff's Department have been fired.

Monica Greppin - Watts, communications director for the Tennessee Board of Regents, announced the termination of the employment contracts of David Scott Simerly, 45, and Joseph T. Churchwell, 33.

"While employment-related issues like these are typically addressed internally and not commented on, the very public way in which these employees were charged has made it necessary for us to provide this statement," Greppin-Watts said in a prepared announcement.

"Any inappropriate behavior on our TCAT campuses is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The faculty and staff at the TCAT-Elizabethton are committed to focusing their efforts on the quality education and training of the students in this region. We all look forward to moving beyond recent events and to continue serving our students and ensuring their success," Greppin-Watts said.

Simerly and Churchwel were arrested Oct. 28 during an investigation of school by the sheriff's department. Simerly was charged with communicating a threat to a school employee and Churwell was charged with theft over $500.

Mathes said at the time of the arrest that Simerly made the threats towards a school employee that he believed had been a whistle blower in the boathouse investigation.

Mathes said Churchwell is accused of taking 1,470 pounds of shredder steel and for engines with a weight of 738 pounds to OmniSource and selling the metal as scrap. The metal was reported to be school property, but sheriff's department investigators did not find any record of the $353.60 being deposited in a college account.

Sheriff Chris Mathes said the arrests were triggered by allegations that the college director, Dean Blevins, had used student and faculty resources and school materials and resources to renovate a houseboat Blevins owns on Boone Lake.

No charges have been filed against Blevins.

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