Metro Nashville Public Schools threw a holiday party on Monday featuring line dancing, a blue grass band and door prizes that included a big-screen TV.
But there was a section of staff not present at the Martin Professional Development Center: teachers.
The party known as the “Holiday Hoedown,” was intended for central office staff, which includes everyone from maintenance workers to some of the highest paid officials in the district.
But not one teacher can be seen in photos obtained by the News 4 I-Team.
“It makes us look terrible,” said a teacher who asked to conceal her identity to protect her job. “It makes them look terrible.”
She said while she wishes teachers were invited, she is more outraged over the giveaway prizes.
“HOHOHO! Santa hands out some dough at the MNPS 2017 Holiday Hoedown,” tweeted the district’s spokeswoman, Michelle Michaud.
On Facebook, another employee posted about “wonderful door prizes, probably 100+,” later writing she really wanted “that 65 in tv” [sic].
“That would have paid for an entire class’ worth of books. That would have paid for pencils,” a teacher told the I-Team. “That’s the big deal is that we're struggling with resources.”
So where did these prizes come from?
Michaud took to Twitter to state all gifts were donated by area merchants including Olive Garden and Wal-Mart.
Some of the winners include staffers whose salaries top $65,000 a year.
Of course, not all 11,000 MNPS employees could be invited. But the I-Team identified who was.
Attendees included Dennis Queen, the executive officer over charter schools; Roosevelt Sanders, the athletic director; and several members of the communication department.
A teacher said that roster sends a message.
“That they’re more important than we are,” she said. “And they’re not the ones there on the front lines teaching kids every day, so it makes us feel very stepped on.”
Teachers will often fundraise or pay out of pocket to purchase classroom items.
What this teacher wants to know: if MNPS could garner corporate donations for holiday gifts, why not put the same energy toward obtaining student resources?
“I want to know why they could get these things and they couldn’t get us resources,” she said.
The I-Team wanted to ask MNPS several questions about the monetary value of the donations, the way MNPS approached corporate donors, and whether donations could have subsidized classroom resources.
While Michaud provided information about the party, she declined requests for an on-camera interview and a request for an official statement.
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