A student's perspective on the Dr. Setterlund situation


Jasmine Carlisle, a 15-year-old Mt. Juliet High School sophomore, has followed closely the recent situation involving Wilson County Schools Director Dr. Tim Setterlund. She wrote a letter to the Board of Education about the situation, and asked her mother repeatedly to post it to a closed group on Facebook titled "Parents of Wilson County TN Schools."

However, as is the right of the administrators, students, nor their parents, are not allowed to post the writings of a student on the page, for fear, as one administrator wrote: "… the concerns were that if a person posts something from their student ... they are opening their child up to being criticized in a public forum, what if another parents shows it to their child and the child gives the kid a hard time??? The intention is to try to protect the students, not discount what they think as you are correct ... this does affect them too. But, the parents need to be the ones to advocate for them in this forum."

In light of this, and because The Wilson Post believes it is in the best interest of the community for a variety of voices to be heard on any matter that affects the community we serve, we offered to publish it with permission of her mother, Cher Carlisle, which she granted in writing via email Monday afternoon.

Below is Jasmine's letter with the only corrections being for style according to The Associated Press, a couple of misspelled words and the breaking up of paragraphs for easier reading.


Dear Board Members,

My name is Jasmine Carlisle and I am a 15 (nearly 16) year old sophomore at Mt. Juliet High School. As a child of two teachers, being a teacher's kid is a lot like being a preacher's kid in my experience. I understand that appearances matter and that avoiding the appearance of bad judgment is almost as important as not using bad judgement in the first place.

I have my drivers permit and I understand what big responsibility being a driver is. While I cannot pretend to understand the rules that employers have for employees as a 15-year-old student, I hope you will take the time to read "my take" on my director, Tim Setterlund.

I need to take as many AP courses as possible, because honors high school classes are frankly and insultingly boring. I just got my first ACT results in and without really studying I scored a 33. Not bad for my first time. I was not allowed by county policy to take more AP classes this year UNTIL I appealed to you the board and the new director of schools.

A meeting was scheduled between my principal, the director, parents and other students like me. The director LISTENED to us and he called us CUSTOMERS and said that the point of education is to get the costumers what they need to thrive. He understood that what is best for all of the children isn't the same as what's best for EVERY child, so that "one side fits all" isn't equal, equitable or fair. The last leader or central office rules didn't know [how to] allow for this kind of vision. I'm afraid of what will happen to students like me if Tim Setterlund isn't the director of Wilson County Schools.

In school, we learn a lot about perspective, agenda and bias as teachers try to teach us to read greater literacy and better judgement. As a student, I know something about bullying.

Social media and regular media look like a bunch of bored adults with too much time on their hands. Lots of adults are "feeling" without "thinking" enough to confirm what actually happened. What I've seen on TV and read in print feels a lot like high school and not in a good way.

What I know is the responsibilities of adulthood should be linked to the privileges of adulthood. Words have meaning, and a adult should be able to have an adult beverage with a meal without being stalked and tattled on in my opinion.

Doing the math for my health class and drivers permit test, a man of the Director's size isn't going to be "impaired" or "under the influence" from a single drink. Therefore, did he really admit to "drinking and driving?" Even as a kid with two years of high school left, I get the feeling that this is bullying of the director and the decision making of you, the board. I wonder how much of this is really about what time, what beverage and what car.

Bullies use whatever weakness they can find to tear people down and make themselves feel better. Sometimes kids and adults are just scared and mad about change and they lash out  at the messenger. I do find it ironic that buying an adult beverage brings tax dollars to schools. I doubt the Director, and teachers as well, will feel free to have a drink or even stop at a liquor store in this city anymore because of what? Bullying, the social media, or "cyber bullying."

People have posted, "What are we teaching the children with situations like this?" This situation teaches children that adults can responsibly drink a small amount of alcohol after work and then be sober enough to drive home. This child is watching to see if you will stand up for the director who stood up for her and students like her as CUSTOMERS. A director who listened and cared enough about her instead of caring more for the existing rules in a course catalog.

My parents and my teachers tell me that mistakes are important because they show us how and where we need to improve to reach our potential. I hope you will be fair to my Director if he has made mistakes in this situation and help him improve as his employer.

Students like me need him. All of the changes he has made have been for the students. If you aren't committed to him, your choice as director, are you committed to me? Please don't be bullied or let him be bullied.

Thank you for reading and listening to one of your customers.


Jasmine Carlisle