Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn tells Tennessee lawmakers she’s ‘committed’ to working with them

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn told irate Republican members of the House Education Committee this week that she would work more closely with them going forward following a series of blow-ups that incensed hard-right GOP lawmakers.

“I am committed to that. I know the committee is committed to that,” Schwinn told Rep. Scott Cepicky, R-Culleoka, who raised issues including the uproar among conservatives over a proposed state child welfare wellness-check program during the pandemic that GOP members charged smacked of government intrusion into the home.

“I appreciate the feedback and the ongoing conversations, especially within the last several weeks,” Schwinn said. “I know we’ve come up with a number of really strong ideas about how to continue to strengthen that over the coming months.”

The exchange came amid a revolt by a number of conservative lawmakers, primarily in the House, with threats to hold a no-confidence vote on

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Tennessee Department of Education has 33% turnover rate under Schwinn

Under the leadership of Commissioner Penny Schwinn, Tennessee’s Department of Education and its affiliates have experienced turnover of one-third of its employees, department data shows.

Since Schwinn took office as commissioner in February 2019, a total of 405 employees, or roughly 33 percent, have left the department. The vast majority of employees leaving the department have resigned – about two-thirds of the total number.

Since last February, 116 employees have resigned from the department’s central office, 19 have retired and 26 were terminated. As of this month, 391 employees remain in the department’s central offices.

A total of 244 employees left the departments’ subsidiaries, including the Achievement School District, State Board of Education, the Energy Efficient Schools Initiative, School Support Services program and the Tennessee Early Intervention System.

In the first nine months of Schwinn’s leadership, the turnover rate at the agency was about 18 percent, an increase from

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