The current makeup of the Tennessee Board of Regents is illegal, but its past decisions still stand, Attorney General Robert Cooper has said in a legal opinion.
Cooper said the state code is silent on this issue, but Tennessee has a long-established history of case law upholding the board’s past decisions.
“Members of such a board or commission who are determined to be ineligible for service for some reason are considered de facto officers whose previous actions while serving on the board or commissioner are regarded as valid,” Cooper wrote in the opinion dated Sept. 17.
The board overseeing the state’s universities, colleges and technical schools is under a cloud of controversy after appointing Gov. Phil Bredesen’s top deputy, John Morgan, the new chancellor in August without interviewing other candidates.
A week later, Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, discovered the Democrat-heavy board was legally bound to have at least three members from the two major political parties. Ketron requested the AG opinion.
Bredesen told reporters Monday that he has a plan in mind to replace several of the Democratic members with Republicans but said he wasn’t ready to speak publicly about it.
The board is due to go before the Senate Education Committee Sept. 28 to talk about how it went about selecting Morgan as chancellor.