- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Holly Bobo suspect pleads not guilty in court

DECATURVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Tennessee man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of kidnapping and killing 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo, whose highly publicized disappearance happened almost three years ago.

Despite an arrest in the case, there are plenty of questions authorities have yet to answer. What was the connection between the suspect, Zachary Adams, and Bobo? How did she die? And have authorities found her body?

In the days following Adams‘ arrest, authorities have been tight-lipped about evidence in the investigation, saying only that it is ongoing.

Adams appeared in a Decatur County courtroom Tuesday and was arraigned on charges of especially aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder. Adams was shackled at the wrists and wore a black and gray striped shirt during the hearing, which lasted less than five minutes. Relatives and friends of Bobo attended the hearing.

Attorney Jennifer Lynn Thompson entered the plea on Adams‘ behalf. Circuit Court Judge Charles Creed McGinley asked Adams if he understood the charges, and Adams replied, “Yes, sir.”

Nashville defense attorney David Raybin, a former prosecutor, said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation must have had some sort of break in the case, given the recent flurry of activity, including multiple search warrants. Raybin said prosecutors may have decided charge Adams because they didn’t want the case to get any colder.

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Bill to prohibit teacher licensure rules

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Legislation that would prohibit student test scores from being tied to teacher licensing has passed a key House panel.

The proposal sponsored by Republican Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough passed the House Education Subcommittee 8-1 on Tuesday.

The Tennessee Department of Education recommended the new licensure policy, and the State Board of Education voted in August to support it. However, the board changed its stance in January.

The Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, has long argued that the Tennessee Value-Added Assessment System, or TVAAS data, shouldn’t be relied upon because it’s a statistical estimate.

Hill says a license is a teacher’s “most prized possession” and shouldn’t be jeopardized using an estimate.

Earlier this week, the TEA announced it’s suing the Knox County Board of Education, claiming the student test scores used to assess a teacher’s performance were flawed and cost her a bonus.

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Bill makes changes to State Textbook Commission

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A proposal that makes changes to the process for selecting books for state schools is advancing in the House.

The measure sponsored by House Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin passed the House Education Subcommittee on a voice vote Tuesday.

The 10-member textbook selection panel recommends its selections to the State Board of Education, and local school systems then choose which textbooks to adopt from the official state textbook list.

Last year, state lawmakers heard testimony from parents who complained about the content of some books and urged legislators to implement a stronger public review process.

Casada’s proposal would require school districts to appoint parents to review the books, as well as put together an advisory committee to look at the books, which would be available online 24 hours a day for public viewing.

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Bill OKs for-profit entities to manage charters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Legislation that would permit a charter school to be operated by a for-profit entity is advancing in the House.

The measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. John DeBerry of Memphis was approved on a voice vote in the House Education Subcommittee on Tuesday. The companion bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

DeBerry said the legislation is permissive, meaning a school district has to approve it.

Currently, Tennessee has 69 charter schools, which are publicly financed but operated independently.

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