By David Carroll

ALTAMONT, GRUNDY COUNTY (WRCB)- In a hastily-called, contentious meeting, Grundy County School Board members have booted their Director of Schools.

Clay Newsome was selected by Board members last May, and had just completed six months on the job.  Tuesday night, by a vote of 5-3, the Board elected to reassign Newsome to a teaching position.  He had been a teacher at Grundy County High before being elevated to the county's top schools job. 

Board members Willene Campbell, Jenny Roberts, Anita Meeks, Darrell Graham and Paul Gallagher voted to oust Newsome.  Voting in support of Newsome were Leon Woodlee, Bobby Foster and Charles Sanders.  Chairman Gary Melton passed on the vote.

After he was voted out, Newsome had no comment.  He waved to the audience, most of whom were in support of him remaining as Director.  He then walked out of the building.  Board members took a break, and called former Director Jody Hargis, who had voluntarily stepped down last June to become a principal at Coalmont Elementary.  Hargis accepted an interim appointment through June 30, 2011.

Ironically, at least three of the Board members who supported Hargis' return (Campbell, Roberts and Meeks) gave him poor or failing scores on his most recent evaluation.  Board member Leon Woodlee said he was saddened by the sudden turn of events.  "Why would anyone apply to be Director of Schools in Grundy County when they see how we run thihgs?" Woodlee asked.  "We were on a roll.  Clay Newsome made some changes that needed to be made, but he must have made the wrong people mad.  Our high school was just named a National Blue Ribbon School.  We finally had something positive over here, and now this happens."

Woodlee said Newsome reportedly was planning legal action, but Newsome could not be reached for comment.