‘Antagonistic’ Meeting Shows Continued Mistrust In East Nashville School Overhaul
Moderator Kenny Byrd addresses Metro School Board Member Elissa Kim, who was questioned about having advance warning about a reorganization plan for East Nashville. Credit: David Smith

‘Antagonistic’ Meeting Shows Continued Mistrust In East Nashville School Overhaul

Moderator Kenny Byrd addresses Metro School Board Member Elissa Kim, who was questioned about having advance warning about a reorganization plan for East Nashville. Credit: David Smith
Moderator Kenny Byrd addresses Metro School Board Member Elissa Kim, who was questioned about having advance warning about a reorganization plan for East Nashville. Credit: David Wright Smith

An East Nashville parent group is apologizing for the “antagonistic” tone of a meeting held Sunday night at the East Park Community Center.

The organizer, East Nashville United, has opposed superintendent Jesse Register’s reorganization for the under-capacity and underperforming schools that feed into Stratford and Maplewood high schools. The plans may include closures, charter conversions and an open enrollment plan.

“[The tone of the meeting] shows that there are still a lot of questions to be answered, and there are a lot of people who are very passionate and have some concerns still,” Metro councilman Peter Westerholm of East Nashville said.

The standing room crowd erupted into shouts at times. Register once stood up to defend board member Elissa Kim. Parents accused her of having advance knowledge of the overhaul, pointing to an email they discovered mentioning her first name. The Tennessean reports that Register explained that the email was referring to a district consultant named Elisa, not Kim.

Despite the witch hunt-feel, as one person described it, parents like Randall Gilberd said there’s a shared goal to improve education, especially for children in poverty.

“The idea that they may go to a charter school or they may go to a turnaround school, all that stuff is literally semantics. Who cares? It’s either world-class or it’s failing, Gilberd said. “And right now it’s failing.”

A group of parents assembled by the district, which will review plans for East Nashville, meets for the first time Wednesday.

David Wright Smith contributed to this report.

Parents held signs outside the East Park Community Center before the meeting organized by East Nashville United. Credit: David Wright Smith
Parents held signs outside the East Park Community Center before the meeting organized by East Nashville United. Credit: David Wright Smith

Blake Farmer

Blake Farmer is WPLN's assistant news director, but he wears many hats - reporter, editor and host. He covers the Tennessee state capitol while also keeping an eye on Fort Campbell and business trends, frequently contributing to national programs. Born in Tennessee and educated in Texas, Blake has called Nashville home for most of his life.
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