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Low Income Assistance
Jan 31 @ 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Accepting applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Call 967-1438 for appointments.

Support rally set to aid Gay-Straight Alliance Club
Feb 4 @ 11:00 pm – Feb 5 @ 12:00 am


brian justice

 Amid opposition, but in compliance with the Equal Access Act of 1984, a non-curriculum Gay-Straight Alliance Club has been formed at Franklin County High School, and a special support rally has been scheduled.

Opposition has been expressed about the club’s presence at the high school, leading the Cumberland Center for Justice and Peace — an organization that, according to its website, “gives a voice to those in Franklin County, Marion County, Grundy County and beyond who are otherwise ignored or sidelined by corporate, university, and dominant political interests” — to request the rally be held.

It is scheduled from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Monday at Franklin County High School on Bypass Road.

The School Board’s regular monthly meeting follows at 6:30 p.m. It was moved to the high school auditorium in response to the rally.

Charles Whitmer, CCJP director, emailed an invitation to the rally to organization members and others, encouraging them to attend and voice their support for the club’s presence.

“I’d like to invite you to attend a rally to support local (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) students and stand against the harassment they are facing both in and out of school in response to their formation of a Gay-Straight Alliance Club at Franklin County High School,” he said in the email.

An after-party gathering from 7-9 p.m. is scheduled in the banquet room behind San Miguel’s on the Winchester Square, the invitation says.

“Folks are coming from Nashville, Huntsville, Chattanooga and beyond,” Whitmer said. “Please help spread the word, invite supporters and allies, and bring your rainbow flags.”

Caleb Laieski, an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights, forwarded an email to FCHS Principal Greg Mantooth about the incidences that were aired to him that allegedly have taken place at the school.

“I am very concerned with the dangerous bullying that is occurring on your campus,” Laieski said. “Based on the continuous emails I am receiving, your staff are turning their heads and not helping these students either. I hear that your students are also being compared to (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).”

Mantooth was not immediately available for comment.

The club recently held its first meeting at the high school, which sparked negative comments on the Facebook social media website.

Dr. Amie Lonas, Franklin County Schools director, said the system is complying with the act in allowing the club to be formed.

She had said Mantooth had contacted her in December after receiving a request to sponsor a Gay-Straight Alliance Club.

The clubs are part of a national network.

According to the organization’s website, a Gay-Straight Alliance is a student-run club in a high school or middle school that brings together LGBTQ persons. LGBTQ is an acronym for “lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, questioning.”

The website,, says the organization’s purpose is to allow gay and straight students an opportunity to support each other by providing “a safe place to socialize, and create a platform to fight for racial, gender, LGBTQ, and economic justice.”

Lonas said the teacher, whom she did not identify, had had been approached by the students and asked to serve as the sponsor.

“She agreed to sponsor the club and completed the required paperwork and submitted it to the principal,” Lonas said. “The proper procedure to establish the club was followed, and their first meeting was held after school on Tuesday.”

She said the court system has already made a ruling on the legality of such a club and found that it falls under the Equal Access Act of 1984.

“We have been advised by legal council not to deny the club the right to meet if they followed the board policy for establishment,” Lonas said. “If we choose not to allow this club to be established, then we would be required to prohibit all non-curriculum clubs or give up federal funding. All clubs meet outside the instructional hours of 8 a.m. and 3 p.m., and attendance is voluntary for students.”

The Equal Access Act is a United States federal law passed in 1984 to compel federally funded secondary schools to provide equal access to extracurricular clubs.

The act was lobbied for by Christian groups who wanted to ensure students the right to conduct Bible study programs during lunch and after school, it also later became essential in litigation regarding the right of students to form gay–straight alliances and to form groups focused on any religion or on secularism.

The act provides that if a school receives federal aid and has a “limited open forum,” or at least one student-led non-curriculum club that meets outside of class time, it must allow additional such clubs to be organized and must give them equal access to meeting spaces and school publications.

Exceptions can be made for groups that “materially and substantially interfere with the orderly conduct of educational activities within the school,” and a school can technically “opt out” of the act by prohibiting all non-curriculum clubs.

Low Income Assistance
Feb 5 @ 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Accepting applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Call 967-1438 for appointments.

Low Income Assistance
Feb 10 @ 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Accepting applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Call 967-1438 for appointments.

Low Income Assistance
Feb 15 @ 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Accepting applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Call 967-1438 for appointments.

Low Income Assistance
Feb 20 @ 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Accepting applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Call 967-1438 for appointments.

Low Income Assistance
Feb 25 @ 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Accepting applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Call 967-1438 for appointments.

Questionable state appropriation: Why is BEP funding down?
Feb 25 @ 5:45 pm – 6:45 pm




brian justice

With a planned 4 percent teacher pay raise with the state supposedly to pay the increase, the Franklin County School system is wondering why its projected state Better Education Program appropriation is much lower than what surrounding systems are getting.

Dr. Amie Lonas, Franklin County Schools director, told the County Commission’s School Committee Monday that the local school system is expected to get about $330,000 to go toward the pay raise schedule. However, she said the amount would only provide a 1 percent system wide increase.

She said the Coffee County school system is getting about $1 million in additional BEP funding while Tullahoma is getting $750,000.

“I don’t understand why,” Lonas said, referring to the discrepancy.

She said the system’s student enrollment had been down, and maybe the state had not initially reduced funding to the school system based on the lower head count. She added that she will be trying in the next few days to find out why the financial difference is there.

The Tennessee Basic Education Program formula is a cornerstone of the Education Improvement Act of 1992, according to the State of Tennessee’s website.

The formula consists of 45 components that have been deemed necessary for a school district to provide a basic level of education. In addition, it calculates the cost of providing this basic education to the students.

The formula represents a continuing effort to determine the most appropriate levels of funding and the proper components for the BEP.

A variety of sources, including local, regional and national data on expenditures and staffing levels, provide information for specific funding levels.





Second ‘Cornfield murder’ suspect’s trial set
Feb 29 @ 9:30 pm – 10:30 pm



Todd E. Dalton


Todd E. Dalton, the second of four defendants charged in the 2013 Corey N. Matthews’ murder, will go on trial Wednesday once the jury has been selected.

Last summer, David Jenkins, who was the first of the defendants to go on trial for Matthews’ murder, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole on June 9.

Matthew’s badly beaten body was found March 24, 2013, in a cornfield in Cowan by a Cowan Police Officer who been searching for the man after family members reported him missing.

Jury selection will begin at the Judicial Center, starting at 9 a.m., with Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Graham presiding.

Low Income Assistance
Mar 1 @ 1:00 pm – 9:30 pm

Accepting applications for Low Income Home Energy Assistance. Call 967-1438 for appointments.