Tennessee COVID Special Session: Lawmakers pass bill allowing partisan school board elections

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) – Tennessee lawmakers passed a bill Friday afternoon that would allow county political parties to opt for partisan elections for school board races.

The bill coming as part of the Tennessee General Assembly’s special session on COVID-19 mandates. The original bill required partisan school board elections, but it was later amended to be an option for county parties.

“We are creating a process that would allow for partisan school board elections if the county Republican or county Democratic party chooses to do so,” Mountain City Rep. Scotty Campbell (R) said. Campbell voted in favor of the measure.

In the Tri-Cities, Johnson City School Board President Kathy Hall said partisan elections could distort the purpose of a school board.

“Being a school board member can be complicated enough. You get a lot of opinions from a lot of different areas,” Hall said. ” I think it’s really important that we are able to focus on what’s best for the students in our system and not add another layer of politics to that.”

The bill passed the House, was amended by the Senate, then passed by the House again. Some Republicans voted against the bill.

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