Term Limits?

I was recently asked why the term limits for Knox County government officials do not extend to school Board members. 

The answer can be found in Tennessee Supreme Court documents from 2006-2007:



September 6, 2006 Session


Direct Appeal from the Chancery Court for Knox County

No. 166799-1 John F. Weaver, Chancellor

No. E2006-01377-SC-RDM-CV

Filed on January 12, 2007

In this court decision, Judge Weaver clarifies the distinction between Knox County officials whose duties and terms can or cannot be changed within a charter form of government. The most important piece, regarding whether there can be limitations to school board members’ terms, is that all county ordinances must comply with Tennessee law, which states:

“The members of the board shall be elected for a term of four (4) years and may succeed themselves.”

Since Tennessee law clearly says that school board members may succeed themselves, and gives no limit to that succession, a county ordinance cannot impose a limitation.

Judge Weaver notes that

“Under state law … the term limits amendment cannot extend to a school board member …”

“The Education Improvement Act of 1991, a general law of the state, preempts the imposition of term limits for a school board member.”

and includes four examples of prior decisions that support his finding:

See Tenn.Code Ann. § 49-2-201(a)(1) (Supp.2006) (“The members of the board shall be elected for a term of four (4) years and may succeed themselves.”);

Knox County Educ. Ass’n v. Knox County Bd. of Educ., 60 S.W.3d 65, 79 (Tenn.Ct.App.2001) (“[T]he provisions of the Education Improvement Act of 1992 repeal and supercede the private act applicable to Knox County. . . .”);

Tenn. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 97-041, 1997 WL 188745 (April 7, 1997);

Tenn. Op. Att’y Gen. No. 95-007, 1995 WL 69246 (Feb. 15, 1995).


Weaver further states that

“The statute trumps the charter amendment as to members of the school board.”


Family Golf of Nashville, Inc. v. Metro. Gov’t of Nashville, 964 S.W.2d 254, 258 (Tenn.Ct.App.1997) (“Local governments may decide for themselves how best to exercise . . . powers delegated by the General Assembly as long as their decisions do not conflict with state law.”).


While it is true that Knox County’s 1994 charter referendum intended to limit the terms of all county officials, the bottom line is that a county cannot override state law.

What does all of this mean?

First, it means that there are no term limits for school Board members in Tennessee. If a person can get elected for 40 years, he/she has the legal right to serve. If the community is unhappy with a person’s service, they will simply need to elect a different person. Ultimately, the length of a school board member’s service will be determined by the people he/she represents.

Next, it means that those people who yell that school board members serving a third term have no right to do so are flat wrong. We gave had several members who served 3 terms and there is nothing at all illegal or unethical there.

What does that mean for Jennifer Owen? 

Right now, nothing. 

I am half-way through my first term and have no intention of making a decision regarding any possible future terms right now. When the time comes, if my constituents want me to continue, I will gladly consider it. However, my CURRENT time in office should not be spent campaigning or rallying. Time in office is to be spent working for public schools.

I hope this answered your questions regarding school boards and county government term limits. If you have other questions, please let me know and I will be glad to try to find the answers for you!

TN(not)Ready – part 1

A Timeline and Explanation of Governor Haslam’s Protested “Listening” Tour

On Tuesday, August 21st at noon, the Tennessee School Boards Association forwarded to school board members, a press release from Governor Haslam’s office:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced a multi-phase plan, highlighted by a statewide listening tour, to

Continue reading TN(not)Ready – part 1

We get along quite nicely; thanks.

This is being reposted from a social media conversation, regarding the budget and the relationship between the school board and county commission:

What nobody seems to want to accept, is that the “budget” the BOE “passes” in April is not the actual, final budget. It is ONLY a REQUEST and is required of every office

Continue reading We get along quite nicely; thanks.

Statement from ProjectGRAD Founders

JOINT STATEMENT FROM THE FOUNDERS OF PROJECT GRAD KNOXVILLE April 17, 2018 As the original founders of the Project GRAD Knoxville partnership with Knox County Schools, we want to thank the Knox County School Board for delaying its vote on the FY18 budget

Continue reading Statement from ProjectGRAD

TN(still not)Ready

Once again, the Tennessee Department of Education has both failed to deliver a usable achievement test and refused to accept responsibility. The email from Commissioner McQueen to Directors of Schools makes it clear that they are blaming everything EXCEPT the department’s continued failures:

Sent: Monday, April 16, 2018 3:07 PM Subject: RE: Update on

Continue reading TN(still not)Ready

KCS Harassment Policy

Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation spread regarding the Knox County Schools employee and student harassment policies. I want share factual information, rather than trying to address every false claim that is being spread.

The Knox County Board of Education reviews every policy, every year. It is actually required by state law, that

Continue reading KCS Harassment Policy

Overhauling Antiquated Discipline Practices Should Not Wait

The Knox County Schools Board of Education recognized a need to make changes to discipline practices several years ago. After nearly three years of work, a clear and comprehensive plan has been created and presented for the Board to approve, but suddenly, there is a huge political push to put the brakes on all of

Continue reading Overhauling Antiquated Discipline Practices Should Not Wait

School Voucher Issue Brief (TSBA)

Please continue contacting your representatives in the Tennessee House and Senate to let them know that you oppose school vouchers.

Public funds should remain in public control, rather than being pushed out to private corporations.

Public funds are meant to be used for the public good.

There are many choices available to people. Taking funds

Continue reading School Voucher Issue Brief (TSBA)


Partisan politics has no place in public education.

Please contact Representative Smith and Senator Gresham, as well as all members of the Local Government Subcommittee to let them know that you OPPOSE this legislation. (Contact information is below.)

Our kids and our public schools deserve to be represented by people who are focused on them



KNOX COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION SPECIAL CALLED MEETING TO SELECT A SUPERINTENDENT MONDAY, MARCH 20TH, 2017 – 3PM The Knox County Board of Education has scheduled a special-called meeting at 3 p.m. on Monday, March 20, 2017, to select its Director of Schools from the two superintendent finalists for Knox County Schools. The meeting, which

Continue reading Called Mtg to Select Superintendent