Archived Story

Councilman questions official’s absence

Published 9:41am Friday, August 24, 2012

FRANKLIN—This summer’s absence of Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle is one of the things Councilman Don Blythe hopes to discuss during a joint meeting of the Franklin City Council and School Board at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 28.

Belle was out due to doctor’s orders beginning in early June. The schools’ Associate Director of Instruction Beverly Rabil was designated to act on Belle’s behalf during her absence. Belle has since returned.

Blythe also believes the meeting scheduled for City Hall should touch on a need for greater communication among the school’s central office staff and teachers, especially about the teachers workloads.

“A lot of questions need to be answered,” he said. “If they can come up with a mutual agreement, I think it will be better for the school system.”

Councilman Benny Burgess hopes the meeting will open up greater lines of communication between the boards.

“I think it’s a necessity,” Burgess said. “I think a lot of miscommunication occurs.”

He sees the meeting as a way for the council to better understand the school’s needs, including funding, and where they are on issues like accreditation and testing.

“To me it’s a fact-finding on where the system is and what is our status,” he said. “It’s not a gotcha meeting, I’m just trying to understand.”

Burgess added that he would like to know more about how the system handles accountability at each level, from teachers up to the administration at each school.

School Board Chairwoman Edna King expects the boards to work on issues and build a relationship through the first of three joint meetings.

“They are our appropriating board,” she said. “We need to have a good relationship with them.”

Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn believes the joint meetings will help with communication.

“I want to be accustomed to communicating with each other,” she said.

Vice Mayor Barry Cheatham agreed.

“I feel it’s important for both boards to have a regular and open dialog with each other to keep the city moving forward and upward,” he said. “The biggest problem is for the lack of communication to be the reason a true need is not met for the school system.”

Johnson-Ashburn is eager to learn more about the graduation and dropout rates as well as state and federal testing standards and capital expenses.

School Board Member Cindy Fillhart said as a new board member she’d like to find out what the council expects from the school board and what can be done to work better together.

“For me it’s more of a learning experience,” she said. “I want to find out my role and what is expected.”

  • happy2

    If their is an issue with ones health that affects their job then yes it does need to be known HIPPA was not to hide behind. The meeting was a lot of bull! Nothing was accomplished because members on both sides did not want to air while others did! So, here we go again with a new school year more new teachers and principles and the revolving door at the end of the year again!!! Lets not forget each school is on warning and therefore what Belle said in the meeting that there are people coming in to help us fix things is incorrect, they are coming to tell us what to do or else!!!

    Suggest Removal

  • johnhenry

    As long as Blythe and his sidekick are involved there will never be an open and honest dialogue between the two boards.

    Suggest Removal

  • franklinmom

    I wholeheartedly agree that HIPAA should protect Dr. Belle from having to divulge ANY information regarding her medical leave. That is strictly a matter between her , her doctor, and human resources. If the paperwork has been filled out and submitted, kudos to her. I hope all is well and it was not just a way to get 12-month pay for 10-months of service.

    Having said that, FCPS may stand to benefit from the hiatus. After all, it was JUST long enough for a WHOLE LOT of important hiring to get done… and she wasn’t involved in any of it. Hmmm… convenient. What a mighty fine doctor. (Was he hired by the school system?)

    Mr. Blythe… shhhh…. let sleeping dogs lie. Franklin is off to a great start so far! Forge ahead with the new partnerships you can make. :)

    Suggest Removal

  • beachgirl

    Mr Blythe would like the title…”Investigator Councilman Blythe”..I do believe there are more important issues with this city than Dr. Belle…come on Lotto Blythe lets get on the track with some REAL issues..this is a bunch of hog wash!!

    Suggest Removal

  • shocked

    As a healthcare employee, I would urge Mr. Blythe to accept the doctor’s note and not pursue investigating the cause of her illness. The laws protect citizens’ privacy regarding medical issues. I would also ask that he consider this situation if this were one of his family members…would he want her to feel forced to tell what her medical condition was? I’m sure the doctor completed the necessary paperwork to notify all persons involved of his orders-without disclosing the medical condition! Again, I urge you to proceed with caution-laws protect our citizens-as they should!!

    Suggest Removal

  • spider68

    If Dr. Belle was out of work because of her doctors orders, then what does Don Blythe have to do with that? I was under the impression that ones medical condition is a private matter between that person and their doctor.

    Suggest Removal

    • amysuite14

      I agree with you,spider…geez, the woman can’t have medical leave…don’t they have better things to discuss

      Suggest Removal

  • SandMan

    Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn .
    So…Raystine and Charlie got married? Congratulations!

    Suggest Removal

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