Metro Nashville Public Schools board approves buyout of former Director Shawn Joseph’s contract

Shawn Joseph, former Metro Nashville Public Schools director, has left the district following a mutual deal to end his contract.

As part of the board’s 5-3 decision to part ways with Joseph, the district will buy out the remainder of his contract for $261,250. The board appointed Adrienne Battle, a community superintendent overseeing all schools located in the southeast quadrant, as the district’s interim director at the same April 9 meeting.

Joseph, who did not attend the meeting, said in a statement that it has been his “honor” to serve in Nashville.

“I believe much has been accomplished despite the pervasive challenges I encountered when arriving, and I am so proud of the tremendous work of the thousands of teachers and staff members who have helped to move the needle for our children,” Joseph said.

Joseph was hired in May 2016 under the terms of a four-year commitment with an annual salary of $285,000. Joseph announced March 25 he would not seek a contract extension but had no plans to resign before his contract was set to expire in June 2020. Joseph’s last day in the position was April 12.

“My life’s mission is to ensure equity and excellence for all children, and I will continue to be a vocal and action-oriented advocate for every child, family and employee in the school system,” he said.

Other terms of the agreement include a twice monthly salary payment through July 31; a non-disparagement clause between Joseph and board members; and up to $10,000 in attorney fees for the defense of his license by the Tennessee State Board of Education, which proposed March 26 a one-year suspension for failing to report teacher misconduct incidents.

While not discussed as a reason for the buyout, a Metro Nashville investigation of the district’s purchasing practices released in March revealed top management had 10 violations ranging from paying more than contractually allowed and not using the city’s competitive-bidding system. The report concluded the violations were not intentional.

“The reality is Dr. Joseph is ready to go and leave what amounts to hostile working conditions,” said board member Will Pinkston, who announced his resignation in March. “This is a voluntary separation conversation. This is not a firing, so to speak. Otherwise, I wouldn’t vote for it.”


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