Bristol, Tenn. City Schools director defends credentials as board launches investigation


BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL) – An investigation into the academic credentials Bristol, Tennessee Director of Schools Tom Sisk has been launched on the behest of the school board.

Chairman of the Bristol, Tenn. School Board, Nelson Pyle, announced the investigation at the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting Monday night, moments before members of the public were offered time to publicly address Sisk’s misuse of his authority by claiming to have a doctorate.

SEE MORE: Bristol, Tenn. City Schools Director addresses doctorate title ‘I think I have the right experiences to prepare the district’

“Over the next few weeks, I have asked our attorney at Lewis Thompson to conduct an outside investigation into the concerns raised regarding the Director of Schools,” Pyle said. “Once the board has our attorney’s investigative report and recommendations, we will reconvene and address the Director of Schools’ future with Bristol Tennesee City Schools.”

The title has recently come into question after a concerned resident approached Sullivan County Commissioner Dr. Mark Hutton questioning the legitimacy of the city’s new Director of Schools’ use of the title Doctor.

“From my perspective, it seems like there was some hope that this issue would just go away. I was told that some of you were planning to stick behind the director no matter what — that you were going to wait and see if this whole thing would just go away, but I can promise you it’s not going to go away,” Hutton said.

As reported in the previous story below, in a phone interview with News Channel 11, Sisk said that he obtained a Doctorate of Numismatics from Ashwood University- an online degree program based out of Pakistan. Numismatics is the study of coins and other forms of currency.

SEE ALSO: Bristol, Tenn. Director of Schools addresses questions surrounding his doctorate title

At the end of Bristol Tennessee’s Board of Education meeting Monday night, the Director of Schools, Tom Sisk, addressed a crowded room to discuss his doctorate title.

SEE MORE: Questions raised over Bristol, TN’s Director of Schools’ qualification

Sisk called himself a doctor and used “Ph.D.” when signing his name. He later explained to News Channel 11 that he achieved a Doctorate of Numismatics from Ashwood University- an online degree program based out of Pakistan.

Monday night Sisk addressed the crowd at the board of education meeting saying in part, “All I can tell you is I have a heart for kids and I have a heart for the work and I think I have the right experiences to prepare the district so I am not going to talk anymore about the Numismatics, it isn’t relevant to what I am doing here. If you want to talk to me about my ability to be superintendent or director of schools, I will be more than happy to show you those qualifications, more than happy.”

Board members at the meeting declined to comment on the investigation.

Also at the Monday meeting, members of the public spoke out about their concerns regarding Sisk’s credentials.

“Even looking at Ashwood University’s website using the internet archive going back to 2004, you can see that it’s on ‘life experience,’ and even today, I can get a high school diploma for less than $300. I can get a Ph.D. for $1500, which is less than our early college program. That what concerns me,” said high school sophomore, Bridget Matthews.

“I have gone through a national superintendent certification process that only a relatively small number have completed. That was a two-year process. You can say, ‘Well, it wasn’t through a regionally accredited institution, so it shouldn’t count.’ And yet those experiences empower me to have those relationships to help bring resources that help the school system that I’m working in,” Sisk said. “All I can tell you is that I want to roll up my sleeves and work with you to continue to move the district forward.”

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