Bristol, Tennessee’s former schools director — who resigned a year ago amid a controversy over his credentials — is among six people charged with conspiracy, fraud and identity theft in an scheme in Alabama to illegally boost school funding, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.
Tom Sisk, who was Bristol, Tennessee’s top education official for just three months, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Montgomery, court records revealed.
The indictment includes 90 counts of wire fraud and 34 counts of identity theft involving students who were allegedly falsely enrolled on the rolls of public schools.
The others charged were former Athens school Superintendent Trey Holladay; his wife, retired Athens teacher Deborah Irby Holladay; former Athens High Principal William Richard Carter Jr.; former Marengo Academy football coach David Webb Tutt; and Gregory Earl “Greg” Corkren, a retired teacher. Both Tutt and Corkren were identified as longtime friends of Holladay.
The six were accused of a complicated scheme to boost public school funding by offering online classes through private schools in south Alabama. Private school students were wrongly counted as being enrolled in online classes through public schools to boost attendance by hundreds and obtain additional state funding, the indictment said.
Thousands of dollars changed hands through cash payments and fund transfers, the indictment states.
Sisk, 55, came to Bristol from Limestone County Schools in Alabama, where he was superintendent from 2012-2019.
He agreed to resign the Bristol job after reaching a buyout agreement with the school system that netted him $76,000 in severance pay.
In February 2020, concerns surfaced about Sisk’s academic credentials and whether his use of the title “doctor” was appropriate. The Bristol Herald Courier revealed that Sisk has a doctorate from an online, unaccredited school not recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
After his departure, the Herald Courier reported that there had been four complaints by staff members accusing Sisk of making racist remarks. They echoed accusations that clouded his tenure at his previous job in Alabama, where he was also accused of nepotism.