(TDEC) Penny Schwinn must leave, said Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles on Wednesday.

by Chris Butler, Tennesseestar.com

Ogles posted on his Facebook page that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee must remove Schwinn. Ogles said he formally called on Lee to do this only hours after he read Wednesday’s Tennessee Star article that quoted three former TDEC higher-ups. Those former employees, speaking anonymously, denounced Schwinn and her alleged on-the-job behavior. They said she falsified government records, ridiculed Lee at TDEC staff meetings, and lied to avoid appearing in public alongside U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Schwinn proposed last month that state officials conduct child well-being checks on all children in Tennessee from birth to 18. Ogles said “that was the end for me, but I didn’t say anything.”

“When I saw your story my immediate visceral response was this is enough. I’ve had enough. This is a critical time for education for our children in the state of Tennessee,” Ogles told The Star.

“The kids lost half of a year last year. They are missing part of a year this year. My children — and when I say my children, I mean the children of Maury County — my at-risk kids are falling further and further behind.”

Ogles also said that Schwinn jeopardized how much federal funding Tennessee might receive by dodging a meeting with DeVos.

“I need someone who will be on-the-job, taking it seriously and not chasing these rabbit holes of child well-being. We need our children’s education,” Ogles said.

“The last thing you need to do is come into my home and interview and interrogate my children when there is no probable cause.”

Ogles also said Tennessee officials too often hire education commissioners with Ph.D.’s. He described such people as “theoretical educators.” Schwinn holds a Ph.D. in education policy from Claremont Graduate University in California, according to TDEC’s website.

“And that has not worked out very well. Maybe we should find a former legislator or someone who has experience in the trenches leading education policy here in the state of Tennessee. There’s a whole host of individuals who would fit that bill. And I’m sure there are several legislators that would be willing to step into that role,” Ogles said.

“They have that vested interest and knowledge and institutional knowledge on how education works and doesn’t work in the state of Tennessee. So why not let them effect change? Why not let them help the governor lead this state? Our governor is a really good man. He is passionate about our kids. He really wants to be that governor who takes our education to that next level, but he has an obstacle in his cabinet — and that obstacle is the commissioner.”

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to chrisbutlerjournalist@gmail.com.