News of the Week: Don Odom announces retirement

Jan 11, 2018 at 11:15 am by Michelle Willard

Rutherford County Schools Director Don Odom announced his impending retirement earlier this week, The Daily News Journal reported.

Odom, pictured above with students at Roy Waldron Elementary School, has worked for County Schools since 1968 with the last six as the district's leader. That's right 50 years wrangling students, teachers and administrators.

Odom began teaching math at Kittrell School before moving to Oakland High School, then working for more than 20 as principal at David Youree Elementary and the Old Rock School, and being an assistant superintendent at the Central Office.

He was appointed the director on July 1, 2012, after serving for nine years as the assistant superintendent for the Curriculum and Instruction Department, according to a press release. As director, the district has twice been named “Exemplary” by the Tennessee Department of Education — the highest designation a school district can receive. 

During Odom's tenure, the system opened or expanded several schools to deal with student growth while improving graduation rates and standardized test scores.

There's no word yet on how the board will search for someone else to manage the state's fourth-largest system, which has a budget of $364 million budget and 3,434 teachers and 1,804 other employees at 47 schools for more than 45,000 students.

The day after Odom announced his retirement, Rutherford County Schools was named an "Exemplary" district by the Tennessee Department of Education. The district also had nine schools named as "Reward" schools for placing in the top five percent in the state for either performance or progress.

Fighting drug use, but not corruption

The Tennessean reported that Rutherford County District Attorney Jennings Jones joined a lawsuit that targets prescription drug manufacturers, doctors and providers to address the state's opioid crisis.

The lawsuit, filed in Cumberland County Circuit Court this week by 14 of the state's top prosecutors representing more than half of Tennessee's counties, alleged drug companies and health care providers "knowingly participated in the illegal drug market," the article said.

The suit asks for financial restitution for the expenses related to opioid addiction and overdoses.

At the same time, a group of local citizens has accused Jones of shirking his duties for not pursuing an ouster case against disgraced former Sheriff Robert Arnold, according to The Murfreesboro Post.

In a letter sent to Jones, the group asked for Rutherford County to pay its legal fees, totaling $10,556.

Jones declined to comment and Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess told The Post the county is "not a party to that responsibility for their legal fees."

Group Treasurer Joe Liggett disagreed, saying the group only hired an attorney as it waited for help from Jones' office, but that help never came.

In the end, the ouster suit was dismissed but Davidson County Chancellor Bill Young suspended Arnold and eventually, he resigned after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

Search to replace city manager could get costly

Murfreesboro city staff recommended hiring Strategic Government Resources at a cost of $28,000 to conduct the four-month search to replace Rob Lyons.

The same company conducted searches for the city's new human resource director in 2017.

The City Council will decide Thursday night whether to take the staff's advice or go in a different direction.

In all four firms applied to conduct the search. Read about it here.


Michelle Willard is a freelance journalist who fills her days with social media marketing, politics and true crime podcasts, and taking complaints. You can complain to her on Twitter @MichWillard or by email michelle(at)



or Register to post a comment

Get the Newsletter!