Hamblen Co. Schools changes policy to allow man with no formal education to become principal

General Arnold W Bunch Jr. served in the US Air Force and has no experience teaching children. However, Hamblen Co. Schools leaders changed policy so he could lead

HAMBLEN COUNTY, Tenn. — Hamblen County school leaders met Tuesday night to decide who would oversee a school district with 18 schools and about 10,000 students.

Before that, they voted to use an emergency protocol to change some of the council’s policies. Normally, a proposed policy change should pass two readings in two separate meetings. However, because they were using an emergency protocol, the policy changed after a reading.

They removed the requirement for school principals to have a background in education. This paved the way for General Arnold W. Bunch Jr. to be selected as the district’s next superintendent. Although he has no experience teaching children, he has a full resume in military service.

He holds a Master of Science in National Security Strategy from the National War College and is currently Commander of Air Force Material Command. He has also flown over 2,500 hours and earned a Distinguished Service Medal.

“We legally took the direction we took tonight to make him a qualified candidate, and that’s how it turned out,” said Carolyn Clawson, the chair of the board.

Bunch Jr. did not attend Tuesday’s meeting and WBIR reporters made several requests to contact him. He did not answer.

He will officially become superintendent in the summer. Some parents said they disagreed with the council’s decision to change the policy to using emergency protocol so it could serve.

“I would think an emergency would be some kind of natural disaster, like when the pandemic started,” Vanessa Palmer, a parent in the school system, said in a previous report. “The policy is in place to have a school principal who has an academic background.”

Some other parents who attended Tuesday’s meeting said they supported him as school district leader.

“I hope our next principal does a great job and can learn to fill in any gaps he may come across,” Palmer said at the meeting.

“Kids need structure, adults need structure, I need structure,” another parent said.

“It’s not often you find a non-traditional person who can fit the bill,” Clawson said.

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