Teacher defends HVA principal, on admin. leave, before Board of Education

KNOXVILLE — Unhappy with what she said were communication breakdowns in the days following the gas leak and student/teacher exposure to that gas at Hardin Valley Academy on Thursday, March 30, Amanda Danson, an HVA special education teacher, publicly defended principal Dr. Rob Speas.

Though placed on indefinite administrative leave and replaced by interim principal Michael Reynolds — who came out of retirement to start his duties Monday, April 10 — Speas “has nothing but my utmost support, trust and respect,” Danson said while speaking to Knox County Board of Education during Public Forum of KCBE’s Thursday, April 6, meeting. “And I believe he is the most equipped leader for Hardin Valley Academy — including everything that happened on March 30.”

As HVA transitioned to Reynolds, “I am disappointed in district leadership and communication in how teachers were notified about an administration shift at our school that (began Monday, April 10),” Danson said.

“… The lack of support and guidance teachers felt (Wednesday, April 5, and April 6) was heartbreaking.

“I would like to thank our HVA assistant principals and how they attempted to lead us (April 6), but we are all hurting,” she added.

“As were know, lack of communication breeds chaos, rumors, anxiety and hurt. I’m saddened that the actions of so many have led to Hardin Valley parents, students and teachers feeling (negative) this week.”

As for district leaders responding, “While I did see many members of the KCS executive board at HVA (during that week), teachers’ concerns or voices were not asked for nor shared,” Danson said.

“How can our teachers be most effective to our students we love when we are left to pick up the pieces after chaos due to lack of information?

“I hope for more honest and clear communication in the near future as events continue to unfold,” she added, “and I hope that Hardin Valley Academy can continue doing the work to be better than ever for our students.”