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OUR OPINION: Aytes marriage to employee is, indeed, conflict

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The selection of Gary Aytes as Roane County Schools director has been welcomed by many — and rightly so.

At a time when funding and teachers’ employment issues have caused tension elsewhere, he has boosted morale among teachers and parents in Roane County.

Aytes also has found love along the way.

At a school board meeting last month, Aytes was congratulated on his recent marriage to Glenna Treece, a well-respected former Midtown Elementary School principal who now works as the school system’s parent involvement coordinator.

Both husband and wife seem to be fine people, and we join school board members who wished the couple well at the recent school board meeting. But we take issue with a statement Aytes made recently to the Roane County News: that the marriage creates no conflict because he is not Treece’s direct supervisor.

Yes, there is a buffer between the two.

Aytes said Treece is directly supervised by secondary school supervisor Russell Jenkins and elementary school supervisor Keevin Woody.

Even so, conflicts loom at many levels.

Treece, one may suppose, will have a good deal more access to and input with Aytes than any other school system employee.

And as a married couple, it is only natural that the two will want to look after each other’s own personal interests.

One also has to imagine Jenkins and Woody must feel some pressure — even if it is only self-imposed — not to make decisions that might be detrimental in any way to Treece’s situation.

Further, Aytes is in charge of the budget, which could impact Treece and her work.  

We have no specific reason to condemn the good intentions of these two.

But we would be derelict if we did not point out that real conflicts, indeed, can be found in this situation — no matter how Aytes sees it.