Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bellezza Bella: Comments/Annuals/Nepotism

Comments on Bellezza Bella Club? We certainly received them and will attempt to address at least some of them here:

1. There may be those out there who know the name of the person who wrote the original letter to this blog. Good for you, but we haven’t asked the person’s name and don’t intend to publish it if we should determine it. Just in case you’re not familiar with the term ad hominem attack, it roughly means criticizing a person’s opinion on grounds having nothing to do with the facts at hand. In other words, a person who wears their clothes two sizes too small (and this was the nicest thing the commenter said) isn’t barred from offering her opinions to this blog.

2. Yes, we understand as well as the letter writer that the club in question is not officially connected to Deshler High School. The question is why are members not advised that calling the Bella Club an official Deshler organization is prohibited? It would seem logical to us that those who administer the system would be aware that the club is presented as such and take action.

3. We made a statement based on reader sent screen shots and e-mails that students listed club membership in (paid) bios published in the school’s annual. This was in error, or at least we now believe it to be; however, we have numerous screen shots of online bios which refer to the club as a Deshler High club. Below is one sent to us by a reader as coming directly from an annual. We are publishing these two examples since the student’s name is easily cropped or doesn’t appear. If the administration wants to know the names of those advertising this club as sponsored by the high school, we’ll be happy to send them.

4. Why should the Tuscumbia City School administration care if the Bella Club leads the public to believe it is sanctioned by them? The answer is one word: Lawsuits. Those who initiate such suits might not win, but a good attorney will certainly ask why the board knew that students presented the Bella Club as sponsored by the high school and did nothing to correct it.


Now here is something brought to our attention today, 18 months after we first published it. We’re using the person’s name since she used it publicly in blog comments

In December 2014, we published a reader comment concerning nepotism in local government: The music teacher at Trenholm is the superintendent's daughter-in-law. The teacher's aide is a niece. (Note: the current Tuscumbia superintendent has recently resigned.)

Today, we received this from Grace Mills Kennington: Here, I am the music teacher you wrote about. You implied nepotism. The superintendent was my aunt, not mother-in-law, but more importantly, she did not hire me... the previous superintendent (no relation) did. Lies, slander, posting before getting your facts straight, whatever you want to call it....

Let’s point out some things here:

1. This was a comment by a reader and was clearly stated as such. We didn’t ask for a name of the teacher involved and until today didn’t know it. Ms. Kennington says she is the former superintendent’s niece, not daughter-in-law. We’re happy to correct that.

2. Ms. Kennington says she was hired before her aunt Mary Kate Smith became superintendent, presumably between June 2011 and December 2011. She says she was hired by the former superintendent (Joe Walters).

3. Ms. Kennington does not have a bio on Deshler’s site, but her mother does: Our daughter, Grace, is a 2007 Deshler graduate…Grace teaches elementary music in the Tuscumbia City Schools

4. We may assume that Ms. Kennington obtained her degree in May/June 2011, a time when Joe Walters was indeed superintendent.

5. However, her aunt was at that time the assistant superintendent before (unofficially) assuming the position in December 2011 when Walters left. Both Kennington’s mother and father taught in the Tuscumbia City system at that time. It is easy to see that our reader, as probably many others, did infer nepotism whether rightly so or not. While officially retired, Smith continues to work as Federal Programs Coordinator.


Now we have to ask why the high turnover of superintendents in the Tuscumbia system? Joe Walters served roughly between mid 2007 and late 2011. Mary Kate Smith served (officially) between mid 2012 and mid 2015. Is the shelf life of a Tuscumbia superintendent only three to four years?


  1. I am 46 years old and recall parent/grown child teachers in my school and every school my 2 girls attended. Why should this be a problem? I would think most teachers would prefer to teach in their hometown. Are you saying Mrs. Kennington isn't qualified and if so, who's right is it to determine this? It's the school and parents right to determine this from experience not bloggers and their commenters.

    1. We here at Shoalanda Speaks have said nothing. We published a comment on nepotism from a reader 18 months ago. Yesterday was the first response we had to the comment. During the 18 months, we would have been happy at any time to publish a rebuttal, but none was forthcoming.

      If you wish to complain about dirty uniforms on your garbage collectors, you may send a comment here. It doesn't mean we agree with you, but we will publish it. We offer the Shoals a voice and, hopefully, some help with issues that need to be addressed.

  2. Mrs Kennington acts like a 17 year old girl. She's always gossiping with her little cheer squad. It's almost sad how immature of a woman she is. Deff only teaching because of her familys "power" in Tuscumbia city schools.