News briefs from around Tennessee at 1:58 a.m. EDT

Thursday, March 13, 2014

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Measure would prohibit teacher licensure rules

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A proposal that would prohibit standardized test scores from being tied to teacher licensing is advancing in the Senate.

The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville was approved in the Senate Education Committee 7-2 on Wednesday.

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.

Bell’s legislation would prevent the policy from taking effect if the board approves it.

Stephen Smith is assistant commissioner of policy and legislation for the state Department of Education. He says the department is OK with standardized test scores not being the sole factor in licensing, but it opposes removing them altogether.

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2 well-known attorneys charged with extortion

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Two well-known Middle Tennessee attorneys have been charged with extortion after being accused of having a client arrested when she didn’t give in to pressure to pay them more in legal fees.

Clarksville attorneys Fletcher Long and Carrie Gasaway are each charged with one count of extortion, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said in a statement. They were arrested and booked into the Montgomery County Jail on Wednesday after surrendering to authorities. Both were released on their own recognizance.

Gasaway, 43, is married to Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John H. Gasaway. Long has represented clients in several high-profile criminal cases, including most recently, a former Vanderbilt football player accused in a gang rape in a dorm on campus.

A phone message left at Carrie Gasaway’s office was not returned.

Long, who is 45 and lives in Adams, told The Associated Press that he will be vindicated.

“We’re going to set it for as fast a trial as we can get,” Long said. “We cannot wait to present our defense.”

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