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Tennessee Lawmaker Wants Legislature To Cast No Confidence Vote On Education Chief


A Republican lawmaker wants the legislature to cast a vote of “no confidence” on Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn.

Paris Rep. Bruce Griffey, who is partly known for sponsoring unsuccessful anti-immigration measures, is the sponsor of the resolution (HR3).

In the past year, Schwinn has been grilled by the legislature over no-bid contracts and staff turnover. Griffey doesn’t spell out why he’s going after Schwinn, but he calls on Gov. Bill Lee to replace her.

“Public confidence in the integrity, efficiency and smooth operation of the Department of Education is if paramount importance to the citizens of the State of Tennessee,” he writes.

In an interview with WPLN News Friday, Schwinn said she is not focused on those criticizing her.

“This work is about kids and you hear me say that all the time,” Schwinn said. “That is the thing I care about. That is where my focus is and that is where my focus will remain.”

She said she has worked to strengthen her relationship with lawmakers.

“So my experience over the last several months have actually been very, very positive and I’ve been very grateful to be part of I think some really, really good, productive conversations about how we move education forward in the state,” Schwinn said.

The non-binding resolution is unlikely to succeed.

Lee’s spokeswoman, Laine Arnold, said Schwinn has the total support from the governor.

“We have full confidence in Commissioner Schwinn and the work she has done to help our student and teachers safely return to the classroom, as well as building a plan for addressing learning loss and literacy in our state,” Arnold said in a text.

Sergio Martínez-Beltrán is Nashville Public Radio’s political reporter. Prior to moving to Nashville, Sergio covered education for the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah. He is a Puerto Rico native and his work has also appeared on NPR station WKAR, San Antonio Express-News, Inter News Service, GFR Media and WMIZ 1270 AM.
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