Log in Subscribe

Board of Education meeting gets heated

Cascade area feels ‘railroaded’

By DAWN HANKINS - dhankins@t-g.com
Posted 5/21/22

Cascade High School Principal Josh Young is being replaced and a large majority of teachers, students and parents are demanding he be reinstated.  

A crowd showed up Tuesday night at the …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Board of Education meeting gets heated

Cascade area feels ‘railroaded’

Posted

Cascade High School Principal Josh Young is being replaced and a large majority of teachers, students and parents are demanding he be reinstated.  

A crowd showed up Tuesday night at the Bedford County School Board meeting to express those concerns.  

The school board announced on Monday, via a voice mail call, that it will begin posting openings for the positions of principal and assistant principal at Cascade High School.  

Director of Schools Tammy Garrett said that her goal is for Cascade High to be the best in the state and she’s committed to helping the community reach that goal.  

Cascade parents, teachers and members of the community sent messages to the T-G this week over their disgruntlement with the board for making this decision.  

They wanted to remain anonymous, as many work in the school system or have children that attend Cascade, but told the T-G they were not in favor of Young’s dismissal.  

Cascade High teacher Christy Dawson spoke on record and said, “I cannot in my wildest imagination think of anything that could possibly warrant this very drastic decision that was made by the superintendent. And in talking with many of my fellow teachers and staff, it seems no one else can understand this, either.”  

So citizens took their cause to the school board meeting at Harris Middle School. The audience was reverent throughout several awards presentations, including teacher retirements. (See future T-G for those photos and story.)  

A new “high school redesign” was presented by assistant director of schools Tim Harwell.  

One man in the audience asked, prior to the board’s approval of the redesign, if teachers had been surveyed.  

Chair of the board, Michael Cook, said in response, “We’re not going to get into accusations and answer questions here. You have to submit it to the superintendent.” (Any citizen comments, based on board policy, have to be submitted 10 days in advance of the meeting to the superintendent.)  

Realizing they were not going to be allowed to speak, citizens then randomly began firing questions from the back of the room about Josh Young being replaced.  

Cook replied, “Everybody please respect the dignity of the meeting.”  

Cook, who represents the 5th district in Bedford County, then advised that citizens were welcome to stay or leave.  

“We’re going to move on,” he said. 

 A large group then exited the library, as superintendent Garrett continued to read through the next business item, which was the expansion of Bedford County Virtual School, currently located at Cascade Middle School.  

She explained, as the crowd vented, that the proposal is to increase the grade levels of the virtual school up to 10th. The future projection is to have a complete virtual high school in the future. The board approved to increase grade levels. 

 Board member Glenn Forsee asked if attendance at the virtual school was consistent in its first, full school year.  

BC Virtual School Principal Meredith Gilliland replied, “Our numbers have increased all year. We have had some transitions with students coming in and out of the virtual program. More coming in, than going out. I think we’ve learned a lot through this year and are going to be putting some policies in place.”  

She said a policy or trial period for prospective virtual students is being considered.  

“It’s not for everybody. But it is a great option for our families in Bedford County. It really engages the parents in a different way, in learning. So, we’re looking at lots of options to make things better next year. But our numbers have steadily increased this year.”  

At this point in the meeting, a citizen held up a sign which she said a student had written. It simply expressed the student’s concern for Principal Josh Young. 

 As Garrett read one of the school policy changes, near the end of the meeting, the audience continued to clap over her discussion.  

Clapping continued and comments and accusations were being hurled at the board from the back of the room, as Garrett went from policy to policy.  

Chairman Cook then said, “I just ask that you please hold your applause and let us finish this meeting. We appreciate you being here and appreciate what you’re doing. Let’s move forward.”  

One lady yelled from the back of the room, “You fired a man for no reason and then you’re too scared to say anything, really!”  

Cook then directed sheriff’s deputies over to the people speaking out of order. More yelling continued as the board moved ahead with business, which included financial reports from Bedford County Director of Finance Robert Daniel.  

Garrett said at the end of Tuesday’s board meeting she had a lot of calls on Tuesday. She said she wanted to clarify how principals are selected and retained.  

“It’s not a vote of the board,” she advised. “Principals do receive performance contracts every July 1; they know what’s on them then. If anyone had a score of a 1 for their school [out of 5 with the 1 being lowest] they are put on an improvement plan . . . we do sit down as an instruction team, coaches and principals and decide what is going to be best for our system.”  

Garrett said there’s been a lot of parent complaints and praise in the midst of this latest decision at Cascade High. She said the system does have the best interest of the students in mind. Members of the audience disagreed.  

Garrett continued, “There are a lot of components to being a principal. I know we cannot get into personnel issues in public. I will not do that. That is not what we do.”  

As of Friday, around 1,600 signatures have been added to a petition which has been started to get Young reinstated.  

The school system has requested Young and Brad Davis, assistant principal, remain in place at Cascade until the last day of school, which was Friday.  

Though the meeting had adjourned, one man had his say, “You want Bedford County to change?” he shouted.  

“It starts right there, in the front, ya’ll.” The crowd cheered.  

One lady then told the T-G, “Parents and teachers just got railroaded.” 

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here