Nashville district names new superintendent after previous one retired amid controversy

Nashville Community High School will have a new superintendent starting July 1.

The Nashville District 99 School Board unanimously voted Monday, Feb. 26 to hire Brad Turner. He is coming to the Washington County school district from Mulberry Grove Unit 1 in Bond County, where he works as superintendent and principal.

The decision comes five months after former Nashville superintendent Ernie Fowler retired amid tension with teachers and controversy over a column he wrote.

Fowler wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper, The Nashville News. But his Aug. 30 submission ahead of a high school girls volleyball game received some backlash.

Fowler wrote about his experience playing volleyball when he was in high school, including his memory of a girl’s “well-developed assets” across the net during a game. Fowler apologized after it was published.

“It would appear that I may have offended some people with my column last week,” he wrote in a statement. “Let me say that, if you are one who was offended, I sincerely apologize. My point of view was from a typical 15-year-old boy as I tried to show the humor in the experience.”

The newspaper’s editor also issued an apology.

On Sept. 1, the high school teachers’ union called for Fowler’s resignation or removal over the column.

The union had already publicly stated that it had “no confidence” in Fowler as a superintendent in May. At the time, Fowler wrote a rebuttal. The school board defended Fowler and agreed to listen to teachers’ complaints behind closed doors.

Fowler’s retirement was effective on the day he became eligible to retire: his 56th birthday on Sept. 26. The retirement agreement with the district stated that he wanted to retire “due to personal and family-related reasons.”

Tom Hawkins has been Nashville District 99’s interim superintendent since Oct. 3. Hawkins is a retired superintendent from Centralia.

The school board and teachers’ union didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the incoming superintendent Friday.

Turner’s salary for the 2018-19 school year will be $125,000.

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