Band of GOP legislators call for education commissioner's resignation

A group of 14 GOP legislators have signed a letter calling for the immediate resignation of embattled Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, citing last month’s delay in test scores as raising questions about the integrity of the department.

The letter accuses the commissioner of “misguided leadership,” and “dereliction of duty,” as well as potentially violating state law by waiving a requirement that teachers factor  standardized test scores in final grades after the state was late turning the test results over to districts. 

“While we do not doubt your motivation or desire to see improvements in the education of all Tennesseans, we realize that we cannot begin to craft an honest solution to our education problems without first recognizing an even bigger problem: a complete lack of trust in the Tennessee Department of Education that now encompasses this state,” read the letter dated Thursday.

The legislators argue the state’s delay could mean the department is trying to “conceal the disastrous results of this years TCAP test scores” and opening up the ability for the department to manipulate the results.

A spokesman for the governor’s office said it is disappointed in the letter after having met with several of the undersigned legislators this week.

“Education is one of the most serious issues for the future of our state, and the governor believes there is a more productive way to discuss something so significant than through a letter by a small group of legislators more interested in trying to get headlines than substance,” read an emailed statement by spokesman Dave Smith.

“Our office reached out to several of these members earlier in the week to discuss their concerns, and it is disappointing they chose a political stunt instead of constructive dialogue,” he continued.

The letter is signed by 14 members, largely in the House of Representatives which has been more vocal in criticizing the commissioner. They include Reps. Rick Womick, Joe Carr, Tilman Goins, Courtney Rogers, Andy Holt, Terri Lynn Weaver, Mike Sparks, Micah Van Huss, Jeremy Durham, Mark Pody, Sheila Butt, Judd Matheny, Debra Moody, and Sen. Frank Nicely. Sen. Joey Hensley’s name is also listed, but with no signature.