Admiration turns to ‘shock and awe’ by terminations

DALTON TEEL, LHS Class of 2015

I am the Junior Class President at Lebanon High School. I am writing this letter to voice my concerns on the future of our school system under the leadership of our current director, Dr. Tim Setterlund.

A few days before school began in August, I had the privilege of personally meeting Dr. Setterlund while he was at Lebanon High School. I was beyond thrilled by the first impression he left on me; I was so excited to have a director who listened to students’ opinions and was willing to make changes. This was something I had never experienced before by our previous directors. I vividly remember going around to teachers and students throughout the county spreading the good news about how fantastic our new director was.

I was thoroughly impressed by the immediate action he took to improve the traffic issues at our school, however, not long after that I learned that our CTE Director, Bill Moss, had been fired. This was a shock and awe on my system because I always knew Mr. Moss to be one of the county’s most reliable and hard-working employees. What reason validated his termination?

I watched this news cause division and stress amongst the CTE teachers at Lebanon High School. I witnessed our strong, stable, and extremely successful CTE Department crumble before my eyes. However, even after all of the turmoil that this caused, I was still trusting in Dr. Setterlund’s “vision.”

Amongst this issue, many others were surfacing as well: the Jill Micco termination, new high school scheduling plans for the 2014-15 school year, the elimination of honors courses if an AP class is offered, talks of teachers’ jobs being diminished due to the new schedule, and all of the problems surrounding K-8 schools.

In October student government representatives from all four county high schools met at Watertown High with the intent of having questions answered about OUR schools by Dr. Setterlund. However, after many well-prepared, thought-out, and researched questions were asked, I began to realize that it was going to take a lot more to get an HONEST, straight-forward answer from our director. Many times when asked a question needing an immediate answer Dr. Setterlund preceded to “dance” around the answer and provide us with no more information than we had before.

He told the group many times that he would “look into” an answer for some of the questions he claimed he didn’t have an answer for, but never even documented our concerns. He repeatedly ignored and ridiculed questions asked by the county’s top student leaders. He stated that we were the school system’s customers multiple times throughout the meeting. What customer wants to be treated like a plebeian? I left this meeting with a completely different outlook on our director and his “vision.”

Nine days later I met with him again at Youth Leadership Wilson. At this meeting he distributed a packet with “pre-answered” questions trying to eliminate the majority of the questions needing answered by the high school students. When he opened the meeting up to questions; juniors Hannah Weeks from Lebanon High School and Miranda Royse from Wilson Central High School both presented questions to Dr. Setterlund that contained statistics and facts that they had researched.

After presenting their facts Dr. Setterlund stated, “Well, I don’t agree with that,” chuckled, and then didn’t even listen to the remainder of their questions. He made us, his “customers,” feel belittled, unheard, and as if we didn’t truly matter.  

I realized as I left that meeting that Wilson County Schools was under the leadership of a dictator, who was only concerned with what he wanted and not what the schools truly needed.

He has showed the utmost disrespect for our county and our hard working employees. He has dismissed members of the Central Office who care for our students, know what’s needed for our system in order to thrive, and who have earned their positions in our county by countless hours of dedication.

He has brought two civil lawsuits onto our school system after being in office for about three months. He has caused angst, anxiety, division, and upheaval amongst our teachers, all due to the product of his conceited toil. He has caused high school students to question their potential for graduating on time because of the schedule changes.

Finally, he has disrespected our county; he stated in a public forum that he removed a county sticker off of his county issued vehicle because it wasn’t “pretty,” and he used an extreme lack of judgment when he chose to consume alcohol and then drive county property. What example does this set for the teachers and students?

If you, the BOE, choose to keep Dr. Setterlund in office, Wilson County will be put on an irreparable fast track to self-destruction.