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FMS students take petitions to Board of Education

Eric Summitt really liked his technology teacher at Farragut Middle School.

But as the school year ended, the rising seventh-grader found out that the teacher who helped him so much won’t be there when school starts in August.

Lane Garner’s position at FMS has been cut. Summitt and other students were upset enough about the news to get more than 100 names on a petition that they presented at the Knox County Board of Education meeting June 7.

“I was one of the last people to talk, and I gave a speech, and after the speech they said that I would be informed a little more about the situation,” Summitt said. Students Davis Hayes and Ashley and Allison Derthick stood with Eric during his speech, said his father, Ricky Summitt.

“Some of the kids who showed up the other night were from the high school and still go back to talk to [Garner],” Linda Summitt said.

The students talked to school officials after the meeting. Linda Summitt said assistant superintendent Donna Wright “came over and explained to them that they really didn’t want to eliminate his position, that he was being moved.”

Linda Summitt said that when the parents and students showed up at the meeting, they all understood that Garner was losing his job. She said that Wright and Board of Education candidate Thomas Deakins both “encouraged them to take their grievance to the County Council meeting … Eric wants to carry it as far as he can go,” she added.

Summitt said that her son enrolled in the technology program as a sixth-grader. “When he got in there, he was a little more advanced with computers than most kids his age,” she said. “Mr. Garner realized that and asked Eric if he wanted to participate in T-S-A — Technology Students Association [competition]. The next thing we knew Eric was making this computer program. We didn’t even see it until the week before he was going to the competition. He placed second in the state and was encouraged to get a patent, and we’re going to pursue that.”

Linda Summitt said she’s concerned about the quality of education here in Knox County. “We look really good for the state of Tennessee,” she said, but pointed out that Tennessee ranks second to last in the country. “We got C’s and C-’s in technology. We got straight F’s in math, science and reading.” She added that anyone interested could see the state comparisons at

“Compare us to some of the schools in Virginia, some schools in California, even some schools in Kentucky — they have language and technology programs in middle school and some of them even in the elementary schools. We just don’t add up … Eric loves this area, but he said he’s not getting a good education here.”

The technology program at FMS, which includes classes of basic keyboarding , is not being eliminated, said Russ Oaks, spokesman for Knox County Schools System.

The program will continue under the direction of one teacher instead of two. He said Garner has accepted a position at South Doyle High School.

“We are going through a staff realignment process,” Oaks said, adding that about 20 teachers are being shifted as student numbers shift and none are in danger of losing their jobs.


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