Seven TN educators still receiving pensions after criminal convictions

Nashville television station WSMV reports finding seven Tennessee teachers and education administrators still collecting state pensions after conviction of crimes related to their jobs.

The offenses range from falsifying records to assault to sexual battery by an authority figure.

… “This is not a loophole,” said Shelli King, the spokesperson for the Department of Treasury. “We are following the letter of the law.

(State law bans pensions for persons convicted of felonies related to service in a public office, but it doesn’t apply to those “grandfathered” into pension systems before the conviction in some situations. And it doesn’t apply to misdemeanor convictions. Two of the cited cases were misdemeanors.)

…“They need to be held accountable,” said Senator Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville.

Tracy said he is considering drafting legislation after reviewing the I-Team’s findings. Tracy, a former teacher, serves on the Senate Education Committee.

“I think teachers should be held to a high standard so the parents can have confidence in the system,” Tracy said. “If you betray this trust – if you betray the citizens’ trust – you don’t deserve those benefits.”

The I-Team reached out to all the former educators featured in this report. No one responded by deadline, but we did find Mary Ann Williams at home.

“What do you think the victims would say, the people who accused you of child abuse?” asked Autler. “Do you think they would agree that it’s OK you keep receiving pension?”

“I don’t know,” Williams said.

The former Lewis County teacher said she believes she deserves her pension because she paid into the system.