GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (WJHL) — The man who resigned as Greeneville High School’s principal May 31 had tweeted a photo last November of three female students and a reference to “Bringing Sexy Back One Track Suit at a Time,” personnel records show.
Martin McDonald, who had been a successful principal or assistant principal for 15 years prior to taking the Greeneville job in 2020, allegedly continued to make “inappropriate comments” after being disciplined over the November tweet, according to a March 25 corrective action plan.
McDonald was rehired in May 2021 for the school year that just ended with a congratulatory letter from Superintendent Steve Starnes. But on Nov. 9 he was reprimanded for the tweet. Records show the formal reprimand instructed McDonald to “refrain from making any verbal comments or any social media or similar posts which depict students in a negative or inappropriate light.”
The reprimand cited three violations of the Teacher Code of Ethics/Educator’s Obligation to Students. Educators are expected to not intentionally expose students to embarrassment or disparagement and not engage in any sexually related behavior with a student, with or without consent.
The code states that can include making sexual jokes or remarks and encompasses verbal, written, physical or electronic behavior. The third violation listed was a failure to maintain a professional approach with students at all times.
The school system sent a report of the reprimand’s details to the state board of education.
The only other negative item in McDonald’s file is the March 25 plan of corrective action. It lists two areas of concern/deficiencies. The first is a three-part citation under “neglect of duty and incompetence.”
The items include failing to follow through “with important tasks such as addressing major personnel issues;” not immediately addressing personnel issues when they arise; and not following through on commitments to faculty and staff in a timely manner.
The other, under unprofessional conduct, says “incidents of inappropriate comments continue to be reported to Administration.”
The “goal” for that item was to “exhibit behavior expected of a Greeneville City School’s leader.” Strategies included assessing situations before making statements, “know your audience,” and refrain from inappropriate comments to others.
Successful completion of the goal would be marked by “(r)eports of unprofessional conduct will cease.”
In his written resignation form McDonald listed no reason for his departure. Superintendent Starnes told News Channel 11 the system had no comment on the resignation. The system has already begun its search for a replacement.
McDonald came to Greeneville with a glowing recommendation letter from a Washington state school superintendent who had been executive director of teaching and learning for Oak Ridge Schools while McDonald was Oak Ridge High’s principal from 2016-2020.
She wrote that if she could convince McDonald to relocate she would “hire him in a second.” She listed both programmatic achievements at the school and “personal efforts toward his students,” calling him “a student-focused leader.”