Thug Politics at the Dept. of Safety?

bus 5It didn’t take long for the Rocky Top Politics Tip Line to generate its first story!

An (anonymous) RTP reader in Bradley County has passed along a very interesting coincidence, one with possibly serious implications.  The news media has been notified, but so far has declined to cover the story (this is where RTP comes in).

It involves school buses and a seemingly innocuous bill brought by Sen. Mike Bell, who represents a portion of Bradley County. The bill (SB1966) would allow local school systems to extend the life of their school buses beyond the current 200,000 miles of service limits to 400,000 miles, as long as school systems conduct proper maintenance and safety inspections. The bill passed out of the Senate 28-0 last week. The House passed it out 92-0 last night. It is expected to be signed by Gov. Haslam. No big deal, right?

But RTP has learned that within the last few days, school officials have received calls from the TN Dept. of Safety demanding a complete spot inspection of all 90+ county school buses and to do so all on the same day. Despite protests from county officials, the buses are to be lined up in the Belk Department parking lot in Cleveland on April 16 — a school day (just to make it even more inconvenient).

When a local official asked what other counties are getting this sort of treatment, he was told “only Bradley County.” The state official went on to say that the department was “going to rock Bradley County’s world” and that the county “must have done something” to tick off state officials higher up the food chain to generate this kind of punishment.

So how might this “harassment by inspection” be connected to the Common Core controversy currently engulfing the state legislature and the governor? As some may recall, earlier this year the Bradley County school board passed a resolution, believed to be the first in the state, opposing Common Core. That was followed by the Bradley County commission passing a similar resolution. The resolutions were quickly circulated among legislators by Common Core opponents and gained the notice of the governor’s office.  In addition, Sen. Bell has been a public skeptic about the Common Core/PARCC testing agenda.

If indeed Bradley County has been singled out for retribution by the administration, this could get ugly.

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