Numerous Complaints Led Dr. Martin to Rescind Acceptance of the Position
BY CARISSA SITKI
The search for a new Altamont Unit 10 School District superintendent resumes as the Altamont Board of Education received a letter from Dr. David Martin on Sunday, Feb. 14, requesting to be released from his employment contract due to community members voicing concerns over his past as a professional wrestler and his appearance on the Jerry Springer show.
Martin had signed a three-year contract with the district at the Monday, Feb. 8, Board of Education meeting and was all set to join the Altamont District on May 1.
“I’m really looking forward to becoming a part of the community,” the Tennessee-native told the News Banner on Feb. 8, just before signing his contract. His tune then changed over the course of several days, as members of the community made it known that they were upset by his past.
“I had such excitement when your faith in my professional abilities manifested into the opportunity to lead such a fantastic district,” Martin’s letter to the Board reads, “However, the events over this past week with the backlash from the community because of my involvement in professional wrestling and an acting job I accepted over 20-years-ago have taken a personal toll on myself, the Board, and created a distraction from what is really important- doing what is right for the students of the district.”
Altamont School Board President, Shelly Kuhns, told the Altamont News Banner that the district had received phone calls and emails from members of the community over the Martin’s past-involvement as a professional wrestler who went by the stage name, Flamboyant Faron Foxx from 1996 to 2002 and wrestled for the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in Tennessee.
“He was in his early 20s, in college, during his wrestling career,” Kuhns said, “He’s in his 40s now and he’s been an exemplary educator with a great record for the past 15 years.”
Dr. Martin has been superintendent for the Tennessee School of the Blind in Nashville, Tennessee since 2017. Before that, he held positions as vice-principal and district principal for the U.S. Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) with duty stations in Fort Campbell, Fort Knox, and a Navy/NATO base in Naples, Italy.
According to Kuhns, Martin had done a good job about being open and honest about his past and this was not something he was trying to hide.
“Everyone has a past,” stated Martin in his letter, “I am not ashamed of my involvement in the wrestling business.”
Several 20-year-old videos of his wrestling performances have circulated throughout the community. Kuhns said the nature of the videos was playful and “not-at-all inappropriate,” but that there were some people who were troubled by Martin’s behavior. “We don’t want there to be a misconception, the videos were of an all-ages wrestling event that included parents and children smiling and laughing in the audience,” said Kuhns.
“With regards to my participation as a paid actor on an over-the-top talk show 20 years ago, I will admit, the 43-year-old David would have passed, but the 22-year-old me saw it as a cool and exciting time. At no time did I ever hurt anyone or do anything illegal,” stated Martin in his letter. The episode he appeared on was scripted and he used the money he earned to help with college expenses, according to Kuhns.
Martin questions whether his past as an entertainer is the only issue that people had with him, or if his sexuality could have been another reason he was not well-received. “While I may have a colorful past, part of me believes that some of the backlash received comes from a part of me that I could not change even if I wanted to. Being a gay man,” Martin stated.
Despite members of community complaining, there have also been Altamont residents taking to social media to show their support for Dr. Martin through posts, comment threads, and shares.
The Board’s annual work-weekend was held on Friday, Feb. 19, at 3 p.m., where the Board discussed the superintendent search which was added to the agenda following Martin’s withdraw. According to Kuhns, the district received over 20 applications for the superintendent position and interviewed seven. Of those seven, two of the district’s top choices are still available, she said. “We are very hopeful because we were blessed with many great candidates for the position,” Kuhns told the News Banner.