Message From the Superintendent


At the start of the year, I voiced concerns about chronic absenteeism. I asked for your help to ensure
students attended school.
Some schools have experienced dramatic attendance rate improvements. Unfortunately, attendance
has not improved across the board. The District chronic absenteeism rate for this school year is greater
than 16%. Both high schools have over 25% chronic absenteeism and many other schools are greater
than 15%.
We have enlisted the support of ENGAGE TN. ENGAGE TN is a state provided program. The goal is to
find and engage parents/guardians and students who are disengaged, chronically absent or academically
at risk. The goal is to break down barriers and increase the probability of student success.
If you have a chronically absent student, you should expect ENGAGE TN counselors to contact you. If
you have questions, please reach out to your school and the graduation coach.

Hamblen County School District Update


As we return from Fall Break, I wanted to give you an update on the Hamblen County School District.


On behalf of the Hamblen County Board of Education and myself, we are excited to have 9 great weeks of the 2023 – 2024 school year under our belt and entering into Fall Break.  The Hamblen County Department of Education (HCDOE) is “shaping Hamblen County’s future…one student at a time”.


HCDOE’s mission is to educate all students so they can achieve their post-secondary and career goals.  We know all students are important and valued and must be treated with respect.  All students will get a high-quality education.  We believe all students can learn and achieve at a high level, and all HCDOE employees share a collective responsibility for the success of every student, every day.


Where are We


I believe where we stand as a District is indicated by a variety of different factors and no one item can be looked at in isolation.


Achievement is the measurement of student on-grade proficiency based on the state academic standard.  Overall, the District improved in 21 of 31 areas evaluated as part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP).  We also scored above the state average in 14 of the 28 TCAP common state-wide areas.  Additionally, we improved in the majority of the demographic subgroups such as Economically Disadvantaged and Students with Disabilities.


Growth, as reported in Tennessee Value Added Assessment System (TVAAS), is a measure of how our students increased their knowledge relative to the rest of the state.  The scale for growth is 1 to 5 with 5 being the best.  A score of 3 means the District grew at the expected level relative to the rest of the state.  A score of 5 means there is significant evidence the District exceeded the expected student growth.  The District Composite score was 5.


Career and Technical Education (CTE) is focused on preparing students to enter the workforce or continue their postsecondary education after graduation having received the knowledge necessary in their chosen field.  In the 2022-2023 school year, we awarded 652 industry certifications.  This is an increase of 15% from the previous school year.


These gains and improvements are reflective of the professionalism and dedicated efforts of our Teachers, Administrators and Staff.  We are fortunate these outstanding individuals are part of the HCDOE Team and members of our community.


While these areas indicate improvements we desire, we are not satisfied.  We must sustain this momentum as we move forward to close the learning gaps created during the pandemic.  We want the District on a continuous improvement path in the coming years.


Where are we going?


We have multiple initiatives underway so I will only highlight a few items.


School Safety


The Safety of our Students and Staff is priority #1!  In close partnership with local law enforcement, we are implementing exercises, plans and training to meet the new state laws.  The Hamblen County Sheriff and County leadership have diligently worked to provide a School Resource Officer in each school.  Safety is an area the District will always work to improve.  We will remain ever vigilant in our efforts.


Early Literacy


In 2021, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Tennessee Literacy Success Act and the Tennessee Learning Loss Remediation and Student Achievement Act.  These laws were written to ensure 3rd grade students who were determined to need additional supports in reading receive them before promotion to the 4th Grade.  If students scored in the “Does Not Meet Expectations” or “Approaching Expectations” categories, the law required students to attend summer school and/or receive intense tutoring through the 4th grade.  Students must also demonstrate adequate growth in the 4th grade TCAP tests.  


These state laws remain in effect, and we will work closely with parents/guardians of this year’s third graders, so they understand the potential impacts on their children as they go through the school year and test.  We are also focused on intervening and informing parents/guardians earlier as we look at the skills of our Kindergarten through second graders.  All of this will be done in coordination with parents/guardians.


Math Curriculum


Tennessee and the District adopted a new Math curriculum last year and we are implementing the curriculum this year.  We are thrilled to see a standards aligned curriculum so we can ensure all students are covering the materials they should expect to see during state testing.  Implementing the curriculum will be a lot of work for our Teachers and Staff over the next two years to ensure we implement with both fidelity and integrity.


English as a Second Language


HCDOE continues to see an increase in the number of English Language Learners.  HCDOE is one of the top 5 Districts in for the state when comparing the percentage of English Language Learners to overall student population.  We have researched across the state and looked for the best programs and are replicating their efforts to best serve these students.  We have increased the number of English as a Second Language teachers, increased Multi-lingual Learner professional development opportunities, and partnered with educational institutions to increase the number of dual certified teachers.  With all of these combined efforts, we anticipate improvements in both achievement and growth next year.


Career and Technical Education (CTE)


We are providing purposeful and intentional early postsecondary opportunities and meaningful work-based learning experiences to ensure our students are better equipped to make informed decisions about postsecondary plans and career goals.  In an effort to prepare students for a changing workforce and get them thinking about career plans at a younger age, we have increased our introductory and exploratory courses in our middle schools.  We continue, and look to expand, our industry partnerships to allow our students to capitalize on work-based learning experiences to guide their future career decisions.  Through the Tennessee Innovative School Model Grant, we are keeping pace with the ever-changing state of technology, increasing class offerings and renovating classrooms to prepare a better learning environment.


Chronic Absenteeism


In order to achieve our mission, we must have students in school.  We, like many Districts in the State and many states, are experiencing increasing absentee numbers.  Chronically absent means a student is missing 10% or more of school days due to absence for any reason (excused, unexcused, or suspensions).  This issue is multi-faceted and there is no easy solution.  We will work this in partnership with community leaders, community organizations, and the judicial system to improve our attendance rates.




We want you engaged in your child’s education.  Please be involved with your schools and work with the Teachers and Administrators.  I see the education of your children as a partnership.  Please familiarize yourself with our policies which can be found at our home page.  I also ask that you demonstrate the importance of school in your home.  You caring about how your child performs and showing interest makes a notable difference in your child’s school performance.




Thank you for your strong support of HCDOE.  We are fortunate to have great partnerships with local law enforcement, elected officials, TCAT, WSCC, HC*EXCELL, community leaders and industry.  We need your continued support to improve our District and succeed in our mission.


We, Hamblen County Department of Education, know a sound education system is critical to the growth and sustainability of Hamblen County’s economic viability.  We are committed to educating Hamblen County’s students…they are our future.



Parents/Guardians, I hope everyone enjoyed the summer.  We are excited for the start of the new school year and hope that you and your students are also excited.  The Hamblen County Department of Education (HCDOE) is committed to providing a high-quality education to all students based on their unique learning needs.  As we start the new year, I want to bring a few items to your attention and ask that you discuss and review these items with your students.



The HCDOE Dress Code is captured in Board Policy 6.310 .  The code is written to foster a learning environment and to minimize distractions.  Your help in this area to ensure students are adhering to the policy will alleviate the need for our faculty members to expend time addressing issues and allow them to focus on educating students.



The HCDOE Cell Phone Policy (Use of Personal Communication Devices and Electronic Devices) is captured in Board Policy 6.312 .  The policy is also written to foster a learning environment and to minimize distractions.  This is another area I ask that you help ensure students know and adhere to the policy as it will alleviate time demands of our administrators.



Last year, I sent each parent/guardian a note and we posted it on our website, ( Last year’s note link) , on this topic.  HCDOE takes the safety of every student and staff member seriously.  We treat any threat seriously and will work with law enforcement to investigate and hold individuals accountable.



The state of Tennessee passed a law requiring signed parent/guardian permission for students to participate in any extracurricular activities or surveys.  Please be responsive when these forms are brought home as we will not be able to allow participation without signed forms.



A survey was conducted last year involving students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades.  While the number of survey participants was not large, there were some noteworthy takeaways.  The survey indicates the age of first use of vapes, alcohol and other substances is decreasing.  A higher-than-expected number responded that they felt parents/guardians would not be overly upset if they found out their students used vapes, alcohol, and/or other substances.  Finally, almost half responded their parents/guardians had not discussed the dangers of substance abuse within the last year.  Please discuss these subjects with your students.  If you need additional information on these areas, please let us know and we will work with you.



HCDOE remains committed to parent/guardian involvement.  We want you to take great interest in the education of your students.  I ask that you reach out to the Teachers and Principals to discuss items first as they are the ones closest to any situations and know the most about what is happening in the schools.


Again, we are excited to start the new school year.  We look forward to working for and with you and your students this year.  HCDOE is shaping Hamblen County’s future one student at a time.




Parents/Guardians, I ask for a favor – please take a little time and communicate with your student on
the significance of threats.
We take the safety of students and faculty very seriously. In this sense, “we” includes all Hamblen
County Department of Education (HCDOE) employees and all local law enforcement agencies.
Since we returned from break, we are seeing an increase in verbal threats. We are also seeing increased
activity on social media that approach the spread of these threats or do spread these threats.
If we receive an allegation of a threat, we immediately take action and involve local law enforcement.
Even if the student later tries to explain the threat away as a joke or they weren’t serious, we treat
anything of this nature seriously.
The HCDOE policy dealing with these type activities falls under policy 6-3091, “Terroristic Threats”. I
encourage you to review the policy at!Au-raUImzCXEgfoGcWL84W9MlZgIcw. The
policy calls for discipline up to extended expulsion for making a threat or disseminating a threat. Each
case is looked at on its own merits, but this is the policy that guides each Principal’s disciplinary
While I have given you the District aspect of discipline, you also need to be aware law enforcement can
and has filed charges against students for making threats. Again, law enforcement takes this very
seriously. So, these activities can quickly move from just a school discipline issue to a legal matter.
I encourage you to sit down with your student and have a discussion. I want all of our students to be
aware of the policy addressing threats, the legal aspects associated with any threat, responsible use of
social media, and how seriously we take every one of these allegations. I also want you to encourage
them to reach out to someone at their school and/or you if they hear anything (this is also part of policy
6-3091). If they see or hear something, we need them to say something.
We take student and faculty safety very seriously, and I ask for your help in communicating this
information with your student.
Thank you for your time & consideration