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Retired judge to hear case against suspended principal

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Deryl Gentry

Members of the Sumner County School Board voted on Tuesday to move forward with proceedings to formally dismiss Gene Brown Principal Deryl Gentry of Portland, by appointing an independent hearing examiner to hear charges against him.

According to TCA 49-2-301, a schools' director may dismiss any nontenured, licensed employee for incompetence, inefficiency, insubordination, improper conduct or neglect of duty. The employee is entitled to a hearing before an independent hearing officer selected by the board.

Upon the suggestion of school board attorney Jim Fuqua, members voted unanimously to appoint retired Sumner County Criminal Court Judge Jane Wheatcraft to preside over the hearing.

Gentry, who is non-tenured and has a one-year contract with the school system, was suspended without pay Sept. 4 for having an "inappropriate" relationship with a teacher under his supervision. The teacher hasn't received any disciplinary action, according to Sumner County Schools Spokesperson Jeremy Johnson.

Gentry was notified of his suspension and asked to cooperate with an investigation by meeting with Director of Schools Del Phillips, but has refused, according to a memo to the board from Fuqua.

"We have not heard from Mr. Gentry since we have sent him a formal notice that he has been suspended without pay," said Johnson.

Gentry's suspension came after photos of what appeared to be text messages between him and a teacher at the school circulated on social media.

"Just a small taste of my husband cheating with one of his teachers at school," read the Facebook post.

Johnson declined to comment on what evidence the school system has against Gentry.

Wheatcraft will review evidence presented by both sides and issue a finding.

Either side can appeal that decision to the Sumner County School Board.

Gentry, 48, was hired by the Sumner County Board of Education to lead Gene Brown Elementary in June 2014 after working as a compliance monitor with the Tennessee Department of Education.

Before that, he worked for the Tennessee Department of Children Services for four years as a family service worker, and as a teacher and principal for several years before that in Missouri.

Keith Parrack, who has served the past five years as the ELL administrator for Sumner County Schools, was named interim principal at GBE on Sept. 15.

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