Wilson County schools director under fire - WSMV Channel 4

Wilson Co. schools director under fire for driving county car after having drink

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Director of Schools Dr. Tim Setterlund Director of Schools Dr. Tim Setterlund

The head of a local school system is facing some tough questions, not about education, but about how he's using his county-issued car.

Thursday evening was a regular budget committee meeting in Wilson County until they got to "new business." That's when County Commissioner Mike Justice decided to question Director of Schools Dr. Tim Setterlund about reports he had a beer at a local bar and drove away in his county-issued car.

"I think it's a number of people that have great concerns about this," said Annette Stafford, a Wilson County commissioner and chair of the education committee. "Most of the time you'll get one complaint. But, when you start getting continual, constant calls, a lot of complaints, you have to do something about it. You have to look into it," she said.

Stafford said the line of questioning started when Justice asked Setterlund why he had removed the county decal from his county-issued car. "He told him that it wasn't pretty," Stafford said. "So that was kind of strange," she added.

Commissioners then asked Setterlund if he had gone to a local bar to have a beer and left in his county car. He replied yes, he had. He told the commissioners his contract allows him to use the vehicle for personal time.

"The room kind of fell silent and a lot of commissioners were in total awe and taken aback," Stafford said.

Setterlund, who was out of town Friday, told Channel 4 on the phone it was a snow day and everyone had been sent home. He said after he left work he stopped by a bar, had a beer, checked his emails and then drove home. He went on to say, "I think in retrospect, it was a stupid thing for me to do because it is a county vehicle and it does have government plates on it. Even though it's provided for my own personal use as if it were my own vehicle." Setterlund went on to say, "I should have done better. I feel bad that I brought criticism to the school system."

But, some county commissioners say, sorry is not enough.

"How can he as the director of schools set a standard out drinking in public and expect a different standard for the students?" Stafford questioned.

She wants the school board to enforce punishment. "They tell us a lot of times being a county commissioner, our business with the school board is only so limited, but any time it comes to public money and public vehicles, it's our business," Stafford said. "I would like to see the school board do something about it."

Wilson County School Board Chairman Don Weathers said the board will meet with the school board attorney in the coming week to decide what action will be taken, if any at all. So far, there has not been any action taken against Setterlund.

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