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Washington County school board chooses Bill Flanary as interim director in unanimous vote

Jessica Fuller • May 30, 2018 at 11:54 PM

Despite a contentious discussion at Wednesday night’s Washington County Board of Education meeting, board members unanimously selected Assistant Director of Schools Bill Flanary to serve as interim director after Kimber Halliburton’s resignation last week.

After the board accepted Halliburton’s resignation and voted to pay her her 20 unused vacation days, Chairman Jack Leonard called for a nomination for an interim director. Philip McLain nominated Flanary, and discussion ensued after Keith Ervin seconded the motion and Flanary accepted the nomination.

Mike Masters asked Flanary if any board member had approached him before Wednesday night’s meeting about the job.

“Several weeks ago, a single board member that I ran into in Jonesborough asked me if I would consider an interim position if it came available,” Flanary answered.

Todd Ganger pointed out that would have been before Halliburton’s resignation, and Flanary said that was correct.

Ganger asked Flanary to reveal which board member approached him about the job, but Flanary said he would prefer it if the board member spoke for themselves. Philip McLain admitted that he was the one who asked Flanary about being interim director after Halliburton had told board members about a job opportunity in Alabama.

“When she told us down at Grandview she was a finalist for the Alabama job, that told me, I don’t really want to say this here, that just told me she was planning on leaving at that time,” McLain said.

“Superintendents come and they go, that’s life,” Clarence Mabe said. “But the way this was handled, I’m not satisfied with it at all.”

Mabe added that he had heard about a letter Halliburton received telling her to resign and complained it had never been brought to the board or the chairman. He directed the question at board attorney Scott Bennett, hired last year by the board.

Bennett said he ceased communication with Halliburton about her employment when he found out she had her own attorney, but she had come to him with concerns about a smooth transition from the director’s position. Through communication with her attorney, he said he drafted a letter as a “simple way to explain how she got to where she is, and why she is transitioning.”

“It wasn’t a letter asking her to resign, her lawyer asked me to put pen to paper,” he said.

Ganger then asked Bennett if any board members had contacted him about Halliburton’s employment, and Bennett said it wasn’t something he should discuss in an open meeting. When Ganger asked about removing attorney-client privilege, Bennett cautioned there isn’t a selective way to remove those protections. Meaning, once the privilege is waived, everything between Bennett, board members and Halliburton is open for discussion.

He stressed that the scope of his job is interpreting the law and contracts for board members, and that he “didn’t carry any water” or “didn’t poll board members.”

“I can tell you I did not talk to five board members about anything involving Ms. Halliburton regarding a transfer,” he said. “

I was asked the question, ‘does the contract allow for a transfer?’ and the answer was yes, it was a simple question.”

Ganger remarked that five board members were being “tight-lipped,” to which McLain responded he thought some board members were “believing too many rumors.”

 

Email Jessica Fuller at [email protected] Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.

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