Loudon Co. HS assistant principal demoted over alleged misconduct

wbir.com-LOUDON - The Loudon County Board of Education demoted a Loudon County High School assistant principal over alleged misconduct.

The board demoted Jeremy Lorenz after discovering he was having an unprofessional relationship with another faculty member, according to a letter from Loudon County Director of Schools Jason Vance to Lorenz.

Lorenz will now work as a fourth-grade teacher at Greenback Elementary School, the letter states.

“Based on a review of records related to your school-issued cell phone, it came to my attention you had been in frequent contact with the other employee outside of school hours,” the letter stated. “I conclude it is more likely than not that some form of unprofessional conduct occurred.”

The board initially got word of the “unprofessional conduct” with another employee after a witness described an encounter, according to letter.

“Because I am not certain as to the degree of unprofessional conduct, however, I am not moving to dismiss you as an employee of Loudon County Schools,” the letter stated. “Yet this incident and my investigation, along with prior issues, have caused me to determine you are no longer a good fit for an administrative position.

“I believe this situation has caused both administrators and faculty members alike to lose faith in your leadership.”

The letter states Lorenz’s salary and benefits will remain the same for the 2016-2017 school year, but will revert to a teacher’s scale for the 2017-2018 school year.

LHS assistant principal demoted

Jeremy Nash News-Herald.net

A letter from Director of Schools Jason Vance to Lorenz, obtained through an open records request, notes Lorenz, as of Jan. 6, was slated to become a fourth-grade teacher at Greenback.

“An eyewitness originally reported said conduct involving you and another employee, and the witness was able to provide specifics which offered credibility to his statement,” the letter reads. “Further, based on a review of records related to your school-issued cell phone, it came to my attention you had been in frequent contact with the other employee outside of school hours.”

Vance declined to comment on the details of the incident, but did say the female teacher involved has since resigned on good terms.

Several community residents attended Thursday’s school board workshop at the county office building in support of Lorenz. School board attorney Chris McCarty was also present.

Peno Campbell, Loudon resident and uncle of Lorenz, was one of those in attendance.

“How can you lay your heads down at night knowing how this was handled and what an injustice was done to a man who not only loves his job but loves his students of Loudon High School even much more?” Campbell said.
Campbell asked school board members why Lorenz’s suspension was “so pressing that this be dealt with 13 days before the investigation” began. Vance and Lorenz first met Dec. 20 to discuss the matter, and Lorenz was to be put on a three-day suspension without pay during the investigation.
Campbell said Lorenz has since been given back the pay.
“Jeremy received a third letter that stated it was more likely than not some type of inappropriateness occurred, and I can’t determine the level of inappropriateness,” Campbell said. “This should tell each of us that Mr. Vance wasn’t very confident in the decision that he made or this letter would be worded much differently.
“The letter also stated that administration and staff has lost faith in Jeremy’s leadership,” he added. “However, I find that hard to believe that most, since this incident, have reached out to Jeremy offering 100 percent of their love and support.”
Stephanie Viars, who has a child at LHS, came in support of both Vance and Lorenz.
“I know there are countless parents and countless students who have stories about what Jeremy’s done,” Viars said. “All I know is what he’s done for my daughter. I think he pays attention to the little things with students and that means a lot. ... The kids, they miss him. And the enemy doesn’t like what’s going on in our high school and I’m standing up and I’m saying we need people like Jeremy Lorenz.”
Viars asked the school board to consider reopening the investigation on Lorenz and reinstate him.
Lorenz has been with Loudon County Schools since 2001, when he first served as a physical education teacher at Steekee Elementary School. From 2002-12, Lorenz was a seventh-grade teacher and eventually assistant principal. Lorenz was principal at SES from 2012-13, and from 2013 to December 2016 was assistant principal at LHS.
“It is my sincere hope that you will learn from this situation and will be better off for it,” the letter to Lorenz says, noting the letter will be removed from Lorenz’s personnel file after the 2017-18 school year barring any further incidents.
Lorenz has not reported to Greenback, but hopes are he will do so by the end of February, Vance said.