On The Carpet

The expression on the carpet, meaning 'being rebuked or closely questioned by a person in authority', is often found in the full phrase to call on the carpet 'to summon for or administer a rebuke, close questioning, or the like'.

This is exactly what happened at the last Loudon County school board meeting. At the end of the meeting, board chairman Scott Newman, addressed accusations made by fellow board member, Gary Ubben, at a previous meeting in October where Mr. Ubben accused other board members of violating state law by, according to Ubben,  violating the state Sunshine Law. Mr. Ubben provided no corroboration or evidence for his accusations.

Newman stated that he and he was sure other board members took their reputations seriously and for someone, especially another board member, to make such baseless allegations against their character was beyond the pail. Newman reported that the board now has an Ethics Committee and he expected Mr. Ubben to take his charges and evidence to the Ethics Committee or to make a full and public apology to the board. Mr. Newman also noted that News Herald publisher, Kevin Burcham, had written an editorial in his paper insinuating that Newman had violated the Sunshine Law based on discussions at the same previous meeting.

Newman clarified this matter by explaining that board member Bill Marcus, had called him prior to the meeting, when Ubben made his accusations, and had pretty much said the same thing Ubben later said at the meeting. Marcus also suggested to Newman that he, as board chairman, should go to school director Wayne Honeycutt and tell him the votes were not there to extend the director's contract. Newman told Marcus that he sure didn't know how the rest of the board members would be voting and he certainly would not be telling the director anything.

After Newman's address to the board a short pause was taken for any board members to comment. With no other comments, the board adjourned. As of now, Mr. Ubben has not asked for a meeting of the Ethics Committee.        

A Board divided: Board of Education members continue to point fingers

Vicky Newman News Herald

Divisions among members of the Loudon County Board of Education continued Thursday, Oct. 14.  Chairman Scott Newman addressed issues that had arisen in the Sept. 9 meeting, when Gary Ubben, board member, voiced concerns about violation of the Tennessee Open Meetings Law.

"At last month's board meeting, Mr. Ubben made a series of accusations that I found unprofessional and almost slanderous..." Newman said. "I am sorry to bring this up. I know it is frustrating for employees to have to hear us discuss this garbage every month."

Newman referred to the first agenda item addressed at the September meeting, the director's contract. 

Ubben, who had headed the director's evaluation committee, said he had been notified that several pre-planned actions were lined up for the meeting. "I had several phone calls this week from concerned citizens of Loudon County about what they had heard about what was going to happen tonight in Mr. Honeycutt's contract," Ubben had said. 

He continued, "... The theme seemed to be the same of the four or five people I spoke with this week, that there was a group of board members who had made some decisions on their own ... I guess that there was a plan set for what we were going to do tonight. The plan had four major parts in it and they seemed to be consistent among those individuals who called me. The first was that we were going to vote tonight and there seemed to be a majority not to renew Mr. Honeycutt's contract. The second thing I was told by the group was that there would be an effort tonight to remove Mr. Honeycutt by trying to buy out his contract or by moving him to a new position.  The third thing that was supposed to be happening was that one of the principals in Loudon County had already been selected to fill the Director's Position should they be successful with the first one.

"The last thing, - and I thought this was a little humorous since I am vice-chair and since our tradition has been to move the vice chair to chair the following year - was that there was a distrust of me that I would not go along with the plan, so they would ask Scottie Newman to stay on as chair for another year.

Ubben had concluded, "Now, if these things are true, and we will begin to find out in a few minutes if they are or not, it seems like there is a gross violation of the Open Meetings Law and if that stuff takes place then I think it is evident that that is what has happened."

Newman had decried and disputed the comments by Ubben.

At the October meeting, Newman had said he had received a phone call from Bill Marcus, who had echoed the comments made by Ubben. "I told Marcus I couldn't speak for the board, just myself, and I didn't know how they were going to vote."

He said the "tactic" was one Ubben had employed two years ago, when there was a controversial move to make Fort Loudoun Middle School a K-12 attendance center.

"We have voted to implement this Ethics Committee, and I expect Mr. Ubben to file a complaint or publicly apologize," Newman said. He adjourned the meeting when Ubben made no comment.

Earlier at Thursday's meeting, committee appointments were among several routine policy matters on which the board had voted.

After the meeting, Newman said the ethics committee included Craig Simon, William Jenkins and attorney Brian Nichols. "I thought it was appropriate that there be somebody on the committee to help us do right, an attorney."

Newman said the allegations by Ubben had been untrue, and he felt compelled to address the comments. "I have been in law enforcement for years, and I take it personally when somebody accuses me of breaking the law," he said. "I don't know why we can't come together and act like a bunch of adults."