The Rutherford County School Board in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, rejected the American Classical Academy by a vote of 6-1. The charter school is Art of a chain affiliated with Hillsdale College. Board members were steaming about the derisive comments about teachers and teacher-training colleges recently made by Hillsdale President Larry Arnn. Arnn said in the presence of Governor Bill Lee: “The teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” Lee did not come to the defense of Tennessee’s 80,000 teachers or its teacher education programs. He praised Arnn’s “vision.”

Educators across the state paid attention. So did school boards. And that is why a charter school affiliated with Arnn’s college did not get a charter in Rutherford County.

That group is affiliated with Hillsdale College, whose president was recently caught on hidden camera badmouthing teachers and the colleges that train them.

Board chair Tiffany Johnson said the people who would have run the school had privately tried to distance themselves from Hillsdale and those remarks, but they decided not to show up to defend themselves.

“The comments that were made by the president of Hillsdale were deeply egregious,” Johnson told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

“We have wonderful teachers, remarkable educators. We have a fantastic system. What I saw, I didn’t like — and I gave them an opportunity to address them and lay out for us that they were not a part of those comments. So I had a commitment until shortly before the meeting that they were going to be here to address the board.”

American Classical Academy could now appeal to the Tennessee Public Charter Commission, which has the authority to override local school boards.

A review committee had recommended rejection of the application based on a number of factors, including lack of appropriate detail about how the school would serve special-education students and English language learners.

The group amended its application to distinguish itself from Hillsdale College, but reviewers concluded “the separation appears to be superficial.”

“The ties to Hillsdale have become increasingly problematic and heightened our review committee’s concerns of applicant intent due to comments recently made by Hillsdale’s president, Larry Arnn,.” reviewers wrote.