Citing “a complete lack of trust in the Tennessee Department of Education that now encompasses this state,” 15 Republican legislators from the Tennessee General Assembly demanded state education commissioner Kevin Huffman’s resignation in a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam.
The state representatives allege that Huffman has violated state law by not releasing scores from TCAP, the state’s standardized test, to all school districts, as required by state law. They also write that the state department might be manipulating the scores to look better than they really are, a case of “outright fraud.” Last month, the release of TCAP quick scores, an important component of students’ grades and teachers’ evaluations, was briefly delayed, and then pushed up again.
From the letter (via the Nashville Post):
We feel that a great source of that mistrust comes from the actions, and general attitude of Commissioner Huffman and that is why we … demand the immediate resignation of Commissioner Kevin Huffman for misguided leadership, dereliction of duty and for failing to uphold and follow the laws of the State of Tennessee in the latest TCAP debacle we are currently witnessing.
The department of education was quick in its rebuttal. Hours after the first letter was released, Haslam, a Republican, and Huffman responded with a letter of their own, stating that the legislators’ accusations were “baseless.” “No scores have been concealed or altered in anyway,” their response concludes.
Huffman is no stranger to open criticism. Last year, more than 50 superintendents signed a letter criticizing the commissioner, and a Facebook group demanding his resignation has more than 6,000 members. The state’s largest teachers’ union has also questioned if Huffman’s resignation is warranted. Today’s letter was signed by 13 representatives and one senator. State Sen. Joey Hensley’s name was included on the letter, but his signature was not.
Final TCAP scores will be publicly released in July.