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'It is about race and gender' | Monroe County school board votes to part ways with superintendent amid criticism

"This woman comes in and does an excellent job and got your out of debt and on the rise and now you say it's time for you to go."

MONROE COUNTY, Tenn. — The Monroe County Board of Education voted Monday night 6-2 to buy out their superintendent from her contract.

Deanna McClendon was hired in 2019 and was the first woman to hold that position.

The decision came with a lot of controversy and people asking why as there was no cause for the action.

In less than an hour, McClendon was out of her position. A $250,000 decision. 

It happened without any reason, only a quick mention of things going in different directions. 

"At the end of the day both parties would agree if it's not in the best interest of the school system or students it serves for not everyone to be united," said the board's council. 

The board's two members that voted no, stood up for her and said the decision to spend that money from the school budget doesn't support the kids. 

"If I had a daughter I'd want her to be just like you," said board member Dewitt Upton.

"She got us money from the county commission that we hadn't gotten in over seven years and to me she's done an outstanding job being our leader," said board member Marsha Standridge. 

Dozens showed their support outside citing racial and gender discrimination. 

"It's not because she's not qualified, not educated. It must be because she's African American or cause she's a woman," said Willa Estell with NAACP. 

"Trying to get rid of her, you don't always want to bring things to a racial thing. But it is. It is about race and gender," said Monroe County teacher Pat King. 

Estell said they'll continue to support her and fight for equality and justice, "We want her to know what she's done for people of color and women, it matters."

McClendon, a Monroe County native, helped get schools more money from county commission last summer. A total of $400,000. 

Something that hadn't been done in seven years.

"Imagine how excited we were when in the very community she grew up in and being minority and they were progressive in hiring an African American women then this woman comes in and does an excellent job and got your out of debt and on the rise and now you say it's time for you to go," said Estell. 

The board and McClendon signed an agreement for an amicable parting of ways.

They voted to elect Dr. Kristi Windsor as interim director to temporarily fill the position.

RELATED: Monroe County School Board will vote to keep or oust director of schools