Former Alvin C. York Institute Director Phil Brannon is speaking out about his termination that occurred last month.
Brannon said he was surprised when Tennessee state officials gave him two options in what he calls a “forced resignation.”
“Needless to say I was stunned. I had no expectation, no inclination this was going to happen,” Brannon said. “Then Mrs. Lora Stewart spoke up and said ‘well, you can either be terminated, or you can resign. Neither of these will affect your retirement benefits.’ I looked at her and I said well, since I’m not quite ready to quit working yet, I think it looks better on my resume to have a resignation rather than a termination.”
Brannon said the meeting had taken place in Nashville during a state superintendents meeting on July 16 as he met with Stewart, the Department of Education’s human resources director, and Director of Capitol David Donelson.
Brannon said he was surprised when he found out lawmakers and other state officials were told issues existed at York Institute.
“Within about 20 minutes… they had called my state senator, they had called both of my state representatives, and had even contacted the governor’s office. All they said to them was there were problems at York and I had to go,” Brannon said. “Now I’m here to tell you that I have never gotten a reprimand, never got a phone call, never got an email, anything that I had done something wrong.”
Brannon said test scores had improved over the last year while the school remained financially stable with no personnel issues, leading to his confusion.
“I don’t have any idea why,” Brannon said. “The school is in great shape, and I want to say kudos to my faculty and students for bringing those test scores up. If I’m such a bad director, why did that happen?”
Department of Education Communication Director Jennifer Johnson released a statement Wednesday saying the state couldn’t comment on Brannon’s resignation.
“Because this is a personnel issue, we are unable to provide any additional details about Mr. Brannon’s resignation,” Johnson said. “We thank him for his many years of service, and wish him the best on his future endeavors.”
Brannon declined to comment on whether he would pursue any legal action against the state of Tennessee for his termination. The 59-year-old Brannon had been involved with Alvin C. York Institute in Jamestown for 38 years prior to his resignation. He had served as the school’s director since July 2005.
Brannon said despite his resignation, he will continue pursuing job opportunities in the education field.