Parents react to Williamson Co. Schools' decision to close for review of safety plans

WCS Superintendent Mike Looney (WSMV file photo)

ATLANTA, GA (WSMV) - Williamson County Director of Schools Dr. Mike Looney is the lone finalist to become superintendent of an Atlanta school district.

The Fulton County Board of Education announced on Wednesday that Looney was the finalist during a meet and greet.

Williamson County School Board Chairman Gary Anderson provided a statement on Looney being named a finalist for the Fulton County position:

"On behalf of the Williamson County Board of Education, I want to thank Dr. Looney for his service to Williamson County Schools and wish him the best in his next endeavor. Should Dr. Looney sign a contract with Fulton County Schools on May 2, the WCS Board, at its regular May meeting, plans to name an interim superintendent and establish the effective date of that leadership transition.

"We have a strong leadership team in place at the Central Office and in our schools, and our teachers and staff are focused on success for all students. Our students come prepared to learn and achieve, and our parental involvement is second to none.

"For more than 25 years, Williamson County Schools has been recognized as a top performing school district in the state, and I believe that will continue for years to come. The Williamson County community should expect a seamless transition as we move on to our next Superintendent of Schools.

Looney was a finalist for the Metro Schools director position in 2016 when Dr. Shawn Joseph was hired.

He withdrew his name from consideration after the Williamson County School Board and Williamson County Commission offered a pay increase.

Looney was named Director of Schools in Williamson County in December 2009. He was named Tennessee Superintendent of the Year by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) in 2015.

Looney has been the center of controversy over the past 16 months.

In February 2018, Looney was arrested for assault on a student at Franklin High School. The charges were later dropped.

In February 2019, he apologized for a "wholly inappropriate" homework assignment at Sunset Middle School that led to two teachers there resigning.

The assignment at Sunset Middle asked students to pretend their families owned slaves and to create a list of expectations for the slaves.

"Dear Sunset Middle School Families,

I have learned of an 8th grade social studies homework assignment that was insensitive and reflects poorly on our school community.

The assignment asked students to choose from a list of tasks to include pretending that the student's family owns slaves. Then the student could create a list of expectations for the family's slaves.

In short, the assignment was wholly inappropriate and doesn't reflect our district's commitment to treat all students with dignity and respect. The assignment has been pulled and no grades will be recorded.

Please accept my sincere apology for this gross error in judgment from WCS personnel. We have been providing professional training to our staff members on cultural awareness this year, but I admit that we have more work to do in this area. Please know, we are absolutely committed to ensuring all of our students feel welcome, wanted and worthwhile."

The school system later required employees to watch a training video about white privilege.

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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