Williamson County Schools Board of Education District 4 member Brad Fiscus and his wife and Tennessee’s former top vaccine official, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, will move out of state next month to pursue new opportunities.
This news comes after a heated school board meeting on Tuesday, part of a series of tense meetings recently, in addition to Michelle “Shelley” Fiscus’ recent termination from the Tennessee Department of Health following public controversy around vaccination and children.
Brad Fiscus shared that Shelley Fiscus plans to remain in public health, and because his day jobs can be done remotely, he will follow her wherever her next opportunities lie. That does, however, mean that Fiscus will step away from his role as a school board representative at that time.
“Anytime the major breadwinner of a family loses their job in the way that this happened, … we’ve been together for 33 years and married for 31, so we’re going to stick together,” Brad Fiscus said.
He said he wants his wife to “follow her passion,” even if that takes them to another state.
In July, following her termination as the state’s medical director for vaccine-preventable diseases and immunization programs, Shelley Fiscus told the Herald that she would like to remain in public health but that she didn’t imagine that would be in Tennessee. Now, with their house officially on the market, the couple has their eyes on Washington, D.C. for a move in September.
“[Brad] and I have lived in this community for 24 years. Raised our babies here. They went to [Williamson County] schools K-12. Brad and I would walk downtown Franklin and I would squeeze his arm and say, ‘I can’t believe we live here,’” Shelley Fiscus wrote on social media Thursday. “Lately, when I say, ‘I can’t believe I live here’ I say it with sadness and shake my head. There are wonderful people here. I’ll bet MOST of them are. But the loud, angry, entitled ones who care only for themselves have been drowning them out.”
Brad Fiscus said, after running for the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2020, he doesn’t have a desire to run again at the moment and was even unsure whether or not he would run for re-election to the school board come 2022. He has received criticism from community members, directed both at him and his family, over the past few months at school board meetings and on social media particularly for his perspective on COVID-19 response, and he shared that this criticism has been present in phone calls and emails as well.
During Tuesday’s meeting, the crowd made jeering comments about Fiscus’ wife and daughter as he was speaking. An attendee brought a poster with a large picture of Fiscus on it. One public speaker, actress Leigh-Allyn Baker, brought copies of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and the Bible to give to Fiscus, saying they guarantee her family’s rights to not wear a mask.
He and other board members were accompanied by security as they walked to their cars after the meeting, where he along with the majority of the board voted to require face masks in elementary school buildings and buses.
“I’m a biology major by training, and I happen to be married to a medical doctor, so if you thought, with those two backgrounds, I wasn’t going to follow science and look at credible medical advice when I’m making decisions, then I just don’t understand what they thought I would do,” he said. “The virus doesn’t care about my rights or their rights. The virus wants to reproduce and spread to everything that it can, and it’s going to continue to mutate until there’s some kind of control over it.”
He said he’s thankful that the three COVID-19 vaccines being distributed throughout the U.S. are effective, and he’s thankful for the community around him that has supported him through this time.
Going forward, he said he will continue his work on the school board and focus on “the next pressing issue” for the schools until he moves away. At that point, the Williamson County Board of Commissioners will be responsible for filling Fiscus’ seat on the school board.
He hopes whoever succeeds him is “willing to do the work” collaboratively with the other members of the board.