Haslam invoked emergency powers included in Title VI, Subsection 13 of the Tennessee Charter Schools Act. The governor said he was forced to act in light of reports of a secessionist Free Nashville! movement gaining strength in the state’s capital city.
The governor appointed education commissioner Kevin Huffman as chief martial law administrator in Nashville. Huffman’s first act was to place Free Nashville! leader Amy Frogge under house arrest. Teach for America volunteers, armed with extremely sharp No. 2 pencils, surrounded Frogge’s home.
Huffman said Frogge would be replaced on the school board “since she can hardly attend meetings while under house arrest.” As her successor on the board, he said he has chosen Margaret Dolan, who lost to Frogge in this summer’s school board elections despite heavy financial support from charter school advocates.
“I have selected Margaret Dolan, not because of her unshakable allegiance to her campaign funders,” Huffman explained, “but because she demonstrated a keen understanding of Tennessee’s much-needed education reforms with her recent entry in our popular ‘Why Rich People Know Best’ essay contest.”
Dolan won the state-sponsored contest by using the word "opportunity" the most times in her essay on Republican education policies.
In addition, Haslam announced cancellation of the proposed rapid bus transit route connecting East Nashville with West End. He said that action was necessary for the long-term containment of East Nashville, where much of the opposition to public funding for de facto private schools for wealthy white families seems to have taken hold.
“This unfortunate rebellion is like a contagious disease,” the governor said. “We must quarantine the infected.”
Haslam added that he was considering demolition of at least two bridges across the Cumberland River as another precaution but emphasized that the use of explosives remains under review at this time.
The governor said martial law would remain in effect “until such time as Nashville’s residents recognize the importance of increasing public funding for education opportunities for the children of Republican voters.”
“Remember,” Haslam added, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”