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


UPDATE 2-11-2020 — After multiple attempts for comment from Tom Sisk, News Channel 11 has not received any reaction from the Bristol, Tenn. Director of Schools, as of Tuesday.

BRISTOL, Tenn. (WJHL)- Last September, the Bristol, Tennessee School Board voted unanimously to hire Dr. Tom Sisk from the Limestone County, Alabama School System. Almost five months later, some are questioning Sisk’s use of the title “doctor” and his claim to have a PhD.

“When you look at someone’s credentials in academia those things should be really easy to find,” said Sullivan Commissioner Dr. Mark Hutton who represents the city of Bristol.

He says a concerned resident came to him questioning the legitimacy of the city’s new Director of Schools Thomas Sisk’s use of the title Doctor.

“You should be able to find where a person went to school, what they studied, when they graduated,” says Hutton.

Sisk’s resume that helped him get the Bristol job doesn’t include where he got a doctorate degree.

But a letter from Dr. Sisk posted on the city school’s website is signed “Tom Sisk PhD, NCSS.” A press release from city schools also includes the Doctor of Philosophy title. We found a reference to a Doctor Tom Sisk on his previous school district’s website. Sisk’s Linkedin page says he has a doctorate in Numismatic Studies.

Merriam Webster defines “Numismatic Studies” as the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects.

At Monday night’s school board work session – Dr. Sisk sent word through his communications director that he wouldn’t answer our questions about his resume.

But the Chairman of the Bristol Tennessee School Board says he’s not concerned about the Doctor title or PhD.

“That wasn’t part of his employment and so he does have a degree in that area so I guess if he wants to use the name “Doctor” he certainly has a right to do that,” says School Board Chair Nelson Pyle.

While Commissioner Hutton and others said they came to get answers – Pyle said the issue wouldn’t come up because work sessions aren’t recorded and there was no allotted time for public comment.

“We’re looking for a dynamic individual to lead this district- we think we have him. Okay? And this is kind of a distraction,” said Pyle.

But Hutton says his question is simple.

“Is it a PhD? That’s the question for me. Is it from an accredited academic institution?” asks Hutton.

Although Sisk declined an interview at Monday’s work session- he sent work that he would respond to News Channel 11’s questions surrounding his degrees in writing on Tuesday.

This issue is expected to come up at the School Board’s regular meeting, Monday, Feb. 17.

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