(KNOXVILLE) Knox County commissioners voted at their regular Monday meeting to reject the contract of Knox County Schools superintendent Jim McIntyre.
That vote, however, was only symbolic.
Nine of 11 Knox County commissioners voted not to approve the contract. Commissioners Sam McKenzie and Amy Broyles voted to approve it.
"We're kind of making the rules up as we go along, unfortunately," McKenzie said after the vote.
In fact, the item never should've come to a vote, McKenzie said.
A long-standing agreement -- called a consent decree -- between Knox County Commission and the Board of Education says commissioners can't tell the school board how to spend its appropriated money.
School board members voted last month to approve McIntyre's contract, so all the commission legally could do was pass it.
"That vote just came up two for, nine against. What does that mean? It means absolutely nothing," McKenzie said. "I think we are - in spirit - disregarding the consent decree, and I don't think this last process was correct."
The "no" vote Monday, therefore, was symbolic.
The move came after county law director Bud Armstrong last week declared the contract unenforceable.
State law limits superintendents' contracts to four years, and Armstrong said this new contract effectively adds two years to McIntyre's existing four-year contract.
Armstrong cited a 2001 opinion from the Tennessee attorney general on a nearly identical case. In it, the AG's office said, a school board may not extend beyond four years the term of its contract with the director of schools. To do so, the opinion says, ties the hands of future board members.
The law does, however, allow school boards to renew a superintendent's four-year contract. The opinion then goes on to differentiate between extending and renewing.
"Black’s Law Dictionary defines renewal as '(T)he re-creation of a legal relationship or the replacement of an old contract with a new contract, as opposed to a mere extension of a previous relationship or contract,'" the opinion says.
Read that full opinion HERE.
For now, McIntyre's board-approved, commission-rejected contract is set to go into effect the first of the new year.
McIntyre was at Monday's meeting but declined to comment on the results of the vote.
Addressing same-sex marriage
Also at Monday's Knox County Commission meeting, more than a dozen people dressed in red showed up in support of same-sex marriage.
A Knoxville man emailed commissioners over the weekend, urging them to introduce a last-minute resolution opposing same-sex marriage.
None of the commissioners did, and that man - who identified himself to commissioners as Mark Rivera of Knoxville - didn't show up to the public forum to comment.
About half of a dozen supporters of marriage equality did address commissioners, urging them to reject any such resolution.
Supporters included Gwen Schablik, with the Tennessee Equality Project.
"The resolution would have no legal effect and it would nevertheless be divisive during the holidays, when we should be focused on unity and goodwill," Schablik said.
There have been similar efforts to symbolically oppose same-sex marriage in other Tennessee counties, with mixed results.
The United States Supreme Court in June ruled that same-sex spouses have a constitutional right to wed.