On Wednesday, February 10, Project 912 TN Founder and President J. Lee Douglas sent out a petition (see DumpLooney.com) to his 912 Project mailing list asking people to support the removal of Dr. Looney from his role of Williamson County Schools Superintendent. Mr. Douglas accuses Dr. Looney of “tyranny” and says that “sufficient grounds for dismissal already exist.”
We’ll have more in the coming days.
What You Can Do
Please write the school board today and ask them if they support the aims of the petition. Ask them to state their positions publicly. It is possible that Mr. Douglas “claims” some board members (he claims 8 out of 12 as 912 members) who don’t want to be claimed or some who were closely aligned with him but have changed their minds. We urge you to request straightforward answers on where board members stand on this petition and Mr. Douglas’ accusations. Let them know what you think of this petition. We’re not sure how Mr. Douglas and his crew plan to present it to the board as valid since they say all names will be kept secret and they don’t seem to require county residency.
Attend the Monday,
2/16 2/23 School Board Meeting. Sign-up for public comment begins at 6:00, and the meeting starts at 6:30.
The 912 Project and the School Board (8/4/14)
“If we take the Board this time, we’ll know that our work has been worth it.” — J. Lee Douglas
Project 912 TN Leader Reports on WCS Board (11/11/14)
“The war continues… Locally, in Williamson County, you may recall that there are now 8 (of a total 12) nine-twelve members on the WC School Board.” — J. Lee Douglas
Campaign contributor and activist Kent Davis sent an email (leaked to and covered in the Tennessean on 7/20) to 24 recipients (including all six new board members-to-be) suggesting the timing and strategy for an ouster of Superintendent Mike Looney. Davis said that the new board—after elected—should “make the case he (Looney) is a top-down micromanager who does not trust his principals, managers and others.” Davis wrote that he would “send materials that outline the case.” He also wrote, “The time for any ugly stuff should be done privately and kept out of the press and much as we would be tempted ‘revenge’ is not a strategy. A win for WCS and us will be for him to move on.”
At this link is a petition that you are being asked to sign if you agree that the Williamson county school superintendent should be replaced by someone more transparent, more factual and less willing to unethically use the resources of his office to directly influence the outcome of school board elections.
During August elections, Dr. Looney secretly pirated the Emails of sitting school board members who favored certain policies such as ridding our schools of Common Core, prayer before school board meetings, etc. These Emails originated from or were about persons competing for Board positions against Dr. Looney’s friends. After determining their usefulness, the Emails were quietly forwarded to his friends, some who still sit on the Board. Apparently none of his recipient-friends found such behavior to be a broach of justice and fairness—no one objected to or uncovered our superintendent’s nocturnal campaigning.
If you desire to read the unabridged complaint with a full description of this tyranny that was respectfully delivered to the Williamson County Board at their January 20 meeting, please go here.
Currently, there is a pending lawsuit in which Dr. Looney is named as a defendant and it is reasonable to expect that more questionable behavior will be exposed, not fully disclosed by Dr. Looney and/or his two attorneys in response to October’s FOIA request.
Sufficient grounds for dismissal already exist with what currently is known.
Part of the “unabridged complaint” was presented as public comment by J. Lee Douglas at the 1/20 School Board Meeting. See 9:00-13:50 in the video.
School Board Member Responses to the Petition
Ken Peterson (District 1)
“I fully support Dr. Looney and everything he has accomplished in his tenure with WCS. I am not concerned with an outside Influence that continues to just use personal and politically motivated attacks on our Superintendent. If Mr. Douglas can show me even 1 time he was involved in any positive interaction with our schools in the last 5 years Dr. Looney has been in charge of our schools I would be interested to hear about that. My suspicion however is that he never thought twice about our schools until the Textbook issue last year, so I have no reason to give any thought to him or his agenda.
“I fully stand behind Dr. Looney and will remain positive as we go through another ring in our circus.”
Dan Cash (District 2)
“The board just evaluated Dr. Looney on his performance as director of schools and [he] was given excellent grades from the board. I have no intentions of signing any petition to remove Dr. Looney from his position. I support Dr. Looney and his staff.”
PJ Mezera (District 3)
“The Board provided recent feedback on the performance evaluation of Dr. Looney. There are no discussions regarding his contract planned until next year. There has been no discussions at all about the removal of Dr. Looney from his position. The Board of Education cannot control petitions or comments by private citizens. Any and all business that the Board conducts is open to the public as necessitated by law. It is the desire of the Board that we may conduct our business in an orderly and peaceful manner.”
Paul Bartholomew (District 4)
“I just learned of the petition and have had no foreknowledge of its intent or conception. Please be assured I support Dr. Looney’s ability as an excellent manager. Our intent, though we may have differing views on occasion as to process and implementation, is to provide the very best learning and secure environment possible for our 35,000 students- PERIOD!
“Collateralization and amalgamation of hear-say, public and Media synthesis, is often, if not generally incoherent and incorrect. To the best of my knowledge there is no move or intent by any WCS Board Member (or viable community organization) to remove Dr. Looney, AND we, the Board, do in the final analysis, make such final decisions. However, every Board member brings their skills and options to the “table” where they are heard and a collective decision is made to which all members adhere. Should there be no varying opinions , voices or options, the eleven of the Board are nonessential. WCS Board work long and hard hours, even on holidays, in league with a very committed Superintendent, to create and maintain a superlative educational system.”
Gary Anderson (District 5)
“Williamson County Schools is a world class school district. Under the leadership of Dr. Looney, WCS has excelled and reached new heights in all areas of the district’s vision statement: academics, arts, and athletics. I support Dr. Looney and the outstanding management and leadership team he has put together to accelerate excellence in K-12 education.
“Serving Williamson County as a school board member in what is now my twenty-fifth year, I have witnessed many petitions wanting this or that to be done. Internet petitions and questionnaires, being open on the internet to anyone whether they live in the county or not, give me pause on their having any validity at all, no matter the results.
“Dr. Looney was employed by the WCS school board and under state law, he is the board’s only employee. He just received an extremely favorable evaluation from the board so I am personally looking forward to many more years of his leadership.”
Jay Galbreath (District 6)
“Last night we had what I believe to be our best, most productive School Board work session since I took office. We had detailed discussion on a number of topics that were relevant to running the school system and I left that meeting encouraged that we were finally turning the corner and could put the divisiveness behind us. While we will not always agree, and we didn’t last night, we can all be respectful and we can “Be Nice,” and last night was what I thought a big step in the right direction.
“This morning began a barrage of emails and I subsequently would review a flurry of social media activity and news headlines and stories about an online petition started by J. Lee Douglas encouraging the removal of Dr. Looney from his office, of which I had no knowledge before these emails began streaming in.
“At first, I didn’t pay much attention to the petition. It is no secret that there are those that don’t like Dr. Looney, Dr. Douglas being one who has come before the board on numerous occasions sharing that opinion, and I don’t believe this is the first petition with a similar objective.
“However, the Williamson Strong site also ran the story and encouraged its readers to email the board members and ask us what we thought of the petition. So…thanks for the 80 opportunities that I had to interact with the people of Williamson County today, several of which replied back and I had good dialogue some of which with folks that I had not had previous interactions.
“I have to say that after such a good meeting last night, I was a little frustrated with the tone of the emails, as only a few of those who communicated today recognized the change in the tone from last night, but many brought up frustration with the dysfunction of the board over the last 6 months, which I was hoping we were getting beyond, and virtually all were attempting to insinuate a connection between the board members and this petition because of an affiliation with the 9.12 Project.
“My response those who emailed today (and yes, I responded to all of them as I always try to do) was to convey that the board has spoken with its exceptional evaluation of Dr. Looney and I don’t feel the need to speak out against the petition, as I feel that Dr. Looney has my support and that of the board.
“I also didn’t feel the need to get in the middle of a political argument, as I don’t think the two sides are ever going to agree, as those who are not going to like Dr. Looney are not likely to change their minds. It is my responsibility, and that of my fellow board members to listen to the different points of view and discern for ourselves the right thing to do if and when the board would take action. Only, in this case we already had taken action through our evaluation.
“I understand that we did not bring up for discussion an extension of Dr. Looney’s contract, but we did so at the request of Dr. Looney, so I do not read anything else into that issue. We have Dr. Looney under contract for 3 more years, and we will take up a potential contract extension when we review his performance and that of the district at the end of 2015.
“In reading all of news media accounts of this petition. It is clear that the storyline is to determine what kind of influence does Lee Douglas have over the members of the school board, and in particular, those who have an apparent or alleged affiliation with the 9.12 Project.
“Until now, I have chosen to let my actions speak for themselves. I trust that those who have watched me carefully, or even at a distance would conclude that I am respectful to my fellow board members, Dr. Looney and the WCS staff and administration, teachers and the parents and community members who are all stakeholders for Williamson County Schools. I hope they also have found me to be diligent and thoughtful in my decision-making, seeking and processing input from many sources and perspectives, and making judgment after deliberating among the board and asking tough questions of staff in private as much as possible as not to make a show of the public meetings, but to ensure that the board is making informed decisions and the process is completely transparent to the public.
“As it is evident that those who may not know me or may not otherwise be able to judge me solely based upon my actions, please allow me to provide my account of my affiliation with the 9.12 Project and how no individual nor group maintains any influence over me as a member of the Williamson County School Board.
“The 9.12 Project Nashville was formed in the Spring of 2009 in the wake of the $Trillion bailouts of 2008 and 2009. As a conservative, I was absolutely frustrated by the lack of fiscal restraint of the Federal Government as both parties bicker back and forth and yet refuse to solve the problems and set the country on a stable and sustainable course. I joined the 9.12 Project in June 2009 and I found people who were like-minded in that we all shared the 9 Principles and 12 Values, (thus 9.12), but which also alluded to the the patriotism and unification that we all felt post-9/11.
“I encourage you to read the 9 Principles and 12 Values below and I hope that we can all agree that there is nothing inherently wrong with the mission of this organization. http://www.912projecttennessee.com/About/Mission_Statement/
“I participated with the 9.12 Project for probably a year, during which the focus was primarily on keeping a watchful eye on national politics, but it was also clear that it is tough to make an impact on Washington as individuals or small groups around the country. So one of the goals of many of the 9.12 groups, including ours was to encourage like-minded individuals to run for local offices and positively impact our local communities from the ground up. Again, no malicious intent and a genuine goal.
“In 2010 and 2011 my focus shifted toward my family as we were going through the adoption process, and since then getting the occasional email has been my interaction with the 9.12 Project.
“I made some fantastic friendships during that time, one of those being that of Lee Douglas, and I do value his friendship to this day. I told Lee that I was running for the school board because I knew that he would support my doing so, but he didn’t ask me to run. I ran unopposed, so I didn’t seek to raise any money, but I’m sure if I had, Lee would have been one of several 9.12ers from which I would have sought support.
“As to what the 9.12 Project believes? Outside of the 9 Principles and 12 Values, and the purpose for which I joined, I cannot speak for the group. I will not and cannot say anything derogatory about the organization or the people who make up the organization, as I believe them to be patriotic, hard-working people with the best intentions of helping make our community and our country a better place. Does anyone associated with the 9.12 Project speak for me? No. Am I responsible for any way for any actions taken or statements made by the 9.12 Project? No. Do I still agree with the mission statement of the 9.12 Project? Absolutely. Do I agree with everything that the members of the 9.12 Project do or say? No. Nor do they probably agree with everything that I have done or will do as a member of the school board.
“The question at hand seems to be this: Does Lee Douglas via this petition reflect the opinion of all of those affiliated with 9.12 and what kind of influence does he and the 9.12 Project have over individual board members? He stated in the Herald article that these were his opinions alone and he was acting as himself. Does that mean that there are some 9.12ers who agree with him? Probably. And there are probably some that don’t.
“As for me, I think I have made it absolutely clear via my words and my actions that no individual or group holds any more influence over me than any individual parent or constituent.
“I hope that we can move on, and I will continue to strive to diligently serve the people of Williamson County to the best of my ability.”
Bobby Hullett (District 7)
“I (and the Board) have received numerous emails asking for our public position on Lee Douglas’ petition to oust Dr. Looney and also on Mr. Douglas’ position (based on his statements to the Board via Public Comment at our January Regular Meeting) regarding Dr. Looney and our School District.
“I have been responding to emails all afternoon. I read every word and I hear your voice.
“I offer you my public perspective on the matter.
“Dr. Looney has my full support. In my humble opinion, he is the finest Superintendent Williamson County has ever employed…ever. Under his Leadership, the District has reached for and broken records in academics, athletics, and the arts consistently, year after year.
“As for the petition and Mr. Douglas. Without hesitation, I will tell you that I am not a member of the 912 organization, nor do I support Mr. Douglas’ initiatives or perspectives, or that of his followers. Mr. Douglas has never been a supporter of mine. Mr. Douglas does not have children in our School System, but he is a constituent of mine (District 7). I have previously met with him to discuss his concerns on issues. Mr. Douglas is always respectful and polite in the presentation of his thoughts…for that I am thankful for his engagement in discourse. However, I do believe that his efforts are counterintuitive to our success, not in the best interests of our 35,000+ students and their families that we serve, and could negatively impact the economic viability of our great county.
“Thank you, as always, for staying vigilant, informed, and most importantly…involved. As with all of my posts, please feel free to comment and share with those you know.”
Candy Emerson (District 8)
Rick Wimberly (District 9)
“Based on results, daily observations and input from others, I think Dr. Looney is an excellent superintendent.”
Beth Burgos (District 10)
“I thank you for the opportunity to respond to the petition that has been initiated by Dr. Lee Douglas asking for the removal of our Superintendent Dr Mike Looney. It is important for you to know that I had no foreknowledge nor involvement in this effort. Dr. Douglas has expressed his dissatisfaction with Dr Looney publicly, at our last school board meeting, when Dr Looney’s performance evaluation was on the agenda. The board, however, gave Dr Looney a very favorable evaluation based on the improvements of student achievement in academics, the arts and athletics as articulated in our strategic plan. If we as a board were dissatisfied with his job performance, that would have been the time to let him know. Every citizen has the right to let their opinions be heard. It is unfortunate, however, that others have accused me of supporting this petition just because I know Dr. Douglas and his wife. I support Dr Looney and have worked hard to develop a good working relationship with him. I hope this answers your question sufficiently and clearly.”
Mark Gregory (District 11)
“I do not have anything to do with any petition having to do with Dr. Looney, pro or con. I have supported Dr. Looney from his initial interviews, where I made the original motion to hire him, to his latest review.”
“As I have stated numerous times, I do not expect everyone to agree with me. But my support of Dr. Looney has never wavered.”
Susan Curlee (District 12)
“I’ve been getting a number of questions today about a petition being circulated. I do believe it is important to allow the board to evaluate all concerns and issues based on facts, not emotions, and through the lens of policy governance, not political agendas.”