By NIARA SAVAGE | Nashville Voice
Former Metro Nashville school board member Mary Pierce spoke out about the board’s conflict and division amid the ousting of director Shawn Joseph, in an op-ed published in The Tennessean on Monday.
Pierce responded to school board member Will Pinkston’s sudden letter of resignation, in which he criticized the racially-motivated behavior of certain members of the board, and defended Joseph.
Last week, it was announced that a motion had been filed to terminate Joseph’s contract over a year before it was set to expire, effectively forcing Nashville’s first ever Black Director of Schools out of office.
Pinkston promptly rushed to Joseph’s defense, asserting that the school board exemplifies “the worst of human nature,” and that “at least one-third of the board,” has acted to take down the MNPS director.
However, Pierce attacked Pinkston, claiming that he is essentially an adversary of the board–a “schoolyard bully,” whose “inconsistent behavior” has manifested in the form of offensive social media posts, and “blocking” anyone who dared to challenge him.
Pierce claims that Pinkston’s behavior is not new, citing events dating back to 2015. However, if Pinkston’s so-called “tirades” have plagued the Nashville school board community for so many years, then why has Pierce waited until after Pinkston issued a bold defense of embattled Joseph, to express her concerns?
Ironically, Pierce expressed her concerns about the example Pinkston is “modeling” for our children. She even calls on city officials to “publicly denounce” his behavior, yet remains eerily silent on the behavior other members of the school board have modeled for the children watching this center-stage debacle.
Pierce seemingly has nothing to say about one White school board member’s decision to encourage masked protests as a form of disapproval of the director. She also seems unconcerned about the precedent such a racially entangled threat may establish within the Nashville community.
In addition, Pierce remains tight-lipped on issues regarding the coordinated take-down of Joseph. In her discussions of inconsistent behavior and use of name-calling, Pierce fails to mention the school board’s decision to bar Joseph from entering the room as his colleagues conspired against him.
Pierce also omits school board members’ decision to pen an op-ed last fall publically calling for Dr. Joseph’s resignation, brings no attention to the fact that the director has been the target of numerous accusations, faced a state proposal for a one-year suspension of his license, been criticized for his taste and use of music, and ultimately faced the circumvention of his own legitimate contract.
Although these events are classic examples of the actions of a typical “schoolyard bully,” Pierce remains intent upon casting only Will Pinkston with such an offensive characterization.
The attacks on Joseph are defined not only by a level of disrespect for the director but are also marked by a degree of resentment.
While Pierce’s op-ed parades itself as an attempt to call out bullying behaviors, in reality, the curious timing and off-beat focus of Pierce’s commentary demonstrates an attempt to villainize one of the most prominent voices in defense of Joseph.