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Email Prompts Williamson County Schools To Call Parents

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Email Prompts Williamson County Schools To Call Parents

CREATED May 21, 2014
by Mark Bellinger

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - An email about school issues is at the center of a controversy in Williamson County. It even prompted school officials to get the word out to parents that the schools didn't send it.

The uproar centers around an e-mailed survey asking questions about Common Core, among other things. The emails came from a politically active parent who feels strongly about some of the issues.

School officials said she's entitled to her opinion, but they feel in this case, she crossed the line.

One question asked, "Based on what you know about Common Core what are your impressions? How familiar are you? Do you think the schools should hire lobbyists?"

There are also questions about the school district's zoning policies.

"If you look at the headline that's in bold, Williamson County Schools, Parent Sponsored Survey it looks to be coming from Williamson County Schools and it's not," Williamson County Director of Schools Mike Looney said.

Looney said the district received several phone calls from parents who think the email came from the schools.

"I've had some irate parents contact me saying how did this person get my email address," Looney said.

The email and surveys were sent by Williamson County parent Debbie Deaver.

"It's not like I went and did something dishonest," Deaver said.

Deaver said she sent the surveys to emails that were public record.

"I went to the PTO or school websites and I simply copied the PTO parent emails."

Deaver no longer has a student in the Williamson County school system.  Her daughter graduated from high school last year. 

Deaver calls herself a citizen lobbyist who fought against Common Core and supported a bill making it illegal for school districts to hire lobbyists on Capitol Hill.

 "I was going to provide the results of the survey to all of the folks who are running for school board so that they might have an idea of what the parents in the community are thinking."

She put a disclaimer at the bottom of her email, which said, "This survey is not sponsored by the Williamson County Schools, nor does it imply a relationship with the public school system."

Some parents we spoke to believe Looney is overreacting.

"They're not upset about how these e-mails got out, they're upset that people are asking these questions again," Nicole Dolan said.

Another parent hates to see politics come between people who have the same goal.

"Maybe it wasn't done appropriately, but I would hate to see dissension grow between two groups of people that I know want what's best for Williamson County and their kids, because this is about kids and not about politics," Tifany Borgelt said.

Looney said even the subject line on Deaver's email read, "Participate in a Williamson County Schools Survey."

He said at that point you could think the email is coming from the school system.

Deaver said she wishes the school district would have contacted her first before sending out messages and phone calls about her email to more than 30,000 parents.

PTO directories in Williamson County are password protected, but NewsChannel 5's lawyer said  if Deaver has the password and has access -- she can do anything she wants with the email addresses.

Email: mbellinger@newschannel5.com
Facebook: Facebook.com/NC5_MarkBellinger
Twitter: Twitter.com/NC5_MBellinger