AVONDALE — The Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy – Challenge Foundation Academy (TJCA-CFA) heard again from many of the community who supported former Founder & Headmaster Joe Maimone at their October meeting. Public comments questioned Maimone’s July 31 resignation, voluntary or forced, just before the school year began. Joe and Georgia Maimone founded TJCA in 1999.
Several people spoke at the meeting’s public comments period. Among the comments made:
- Chris McMullens highlighted the strengths of Joe’s leadership.
- Kelly Swofford’s commented on how power without accountability leads to corruption is what led our Founding Fathers to create a government with checks and balances. He also questioned what the children were being taught about loyalty and honor. Swafford posed the question of whether the board was answerable only to itself. “It seems the only way a member can be removed from the board is by the vote of the board.” Swofford asked for term limits for board members.
- Ken Appling’s speech highlighted the alleged purposeful humiliation of Joe by the Board. Joe Maimone has yet to comment publicly on the matter of his departure.
- Jerry Early stated that he had made the right decision to let his daughter leave TJCA-CFA since the man who held the school together had been run off. “You don’t fire the coach when you are winning!”
- Pam Jones spoke on behalf of TJCA graduate Elijah Hornbeck stating he had been fundamentally changed as a person through the conservative classical education at TJCA-CFA. The emphasis, according Jones/Hornbeck, was on “teaching people how to teach themselves.”
- Tami Waters of the Masters Academy said Joe’s influence surpassed the walls of TJ’s campus. “He forces educators to be better.” She feared that the Board of Directors was driving the school in another direction other than the founders’ intent. She asked for a win-win resolution to fix the problem.
- Dr. Inge Collins spoke on the availability of public records and the use of a lawyer to review them. She also questioned the validity of the amended bylaws. Collins asked what happened to having 2 teacher members on the board to reflect both TJCA campuses.
- Ken Atkins emphatically told the Board, “Joe’s dream, not yours.”
- Joeseph Maimone, Jr., on behalf of his family, thanked Sally and Ned Harbin for their selfless service to the school.
Tony Helton, CEO of the Challenge Foundation Academy, sat in the back of the auditorium but did not make any statement.