Providing Legal Services and Guidance
The mission of the office of the general counsel (OGC) is to provide legal services to the Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) for the day to day operation of the agency as well as guidance and legal training to assist TDOE and local education agencies (LEA) in the implementation of programs and services for Tennessee students.
OGC staff may be reached at (615) 741-2921:
- General Counsel: Christy Ballard
- Paralegal: Nikkie Kiene
- Staff Attorney & Director of Contracts: Joanna Collins
- Staff Attorney & Director of Office for Civil Rights: Lee Danley
- Assistant General Counsel for Special Education: Bill Wilson
- IDEA Complaint Investigator: Steve Sparks
Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §49-1-201(c) (5), the commissioner of education is required to ensure that school laws and the regulations of the Tennessee State Board of Education are faithfully executed. The OGC advises the commissioner of education and TDOE personnel as well as the superintendents of the four state special schools on all legal issues.
While LEAs must consult their local school board attorney for specific legal advice, the OGC regularly assists in the implementation and enforcement of Tennessee’s education laws and regulations by providing legal technical assistance to local school board attorneys, other state agency staff, legislators, LEA officials, teachers and the general public by providing the TDOE’s position on school related laws and regulations. In addition, the OGC speaks at conferences, conventions and workshops across the state for LEAs and state education and child focused organizations. Upon request, the OGC will design and provide specific training to meet an agency’s needs.
To Access Tennessee Laws
- Go to the Tennessee Code Unannotated Free Public Access page on Lexis Nexis.
- Agree to the Terms & Conditions.
- At the top of the page in the Search field, enter the code number (i.e., 49-1-101), or search by keyword in Title 49.