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Knox Co. School Board candidate misused funds at his job as principal of a Christian school

Steve Triplett, the Republican candidate for District 7, said he made mistakes, but also said he learned from the past.

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — As the principal of Heritage Christian School in Ohio, Knox County School Board candidate Steve Triplett (R - District 7) misused funds. 

Pastor Peter Folger from the Cleveland Baptist Church said the financial office discovered "things were happening financially," and Triplett was "essentially going to be fired." The Cleveland Baptist Church founded the school in 1974, according to its website.

However, Folger said Triplett restored all of the funds and the pastor at the time gave him grace and allowed him to resign. 

When asked whether Folger thought Triplett should run for a seat on the Knox County Board of Education, he said "I don't know if I would advise him to do it." 

In essence, Triplett said he took money from the school and gave it back once he was caught. He now works as the general manager of a Chick-Fil-A store in Fountain City. He is from Knoxville and graduated from Crown College, a Christian school in Powell.

"I don't know that there's any real justification," Triplett said. "I think excuses and trying to justify when we make wrong choices doesn't really get you anywhere." 

Triplett said he "confessed his sins" and made things right financially. Confession is a tradition in many denominations of Christianity where people admit wrongdoings either in public or private in an attempt to effectively receive divine forgiveness.

"You can't put a price tag on trust," Folger said. 

Triplett said he's been in Knoxville and Knox County for around nine years, and he said he thinks the people here can trust him. 

"I believe those folks know who I am today, not necessarily who I was a decade ago," Triplett said. "I've learned so much about God's grace in my life and forgiveness that can happen." 

The story about Triplett's misuse of funds was first revealed in late April in a Knoxville publication that focuses on covering local politics, called the Compass. After it was published, he won the Republican nomination in District 7 with 65% of the vote. His general election opponent is Dominique Oakley, an independent candidate. There is no Democrat in this race. 

This is the first year that school board elections formally involve party politics in Knox County after state lawmakers passed a law allowing them in the last legislative session. 

Early voting in Knox County begins on Friday, July 15. Election day is Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022. 

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